Dominique Dib has dealt with anxiety for most of his life and knows first hand how poor mental health can tragically affect loved ones.
A few years ago, a friend of his took their own life.
So during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he wants to do his best to make sure others take care of their mental health, and help end the stigma of talking about it. He's started a 295 kilometre run to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Atlantic Canada.
There hasn't been a moment in time that Atlantic Canadians have needed to take care of their mental health more than now, Dib said.
"We've seen the greatest peak in anxiety and depression hit virtually every demographic and community within our four provinces," he said.
"I think that if there's ever a time to support the Canadian Mental Health Association or just mental health in general, now's the time to do it."
The COVID-19 pandemic still impacts our mental health, even with the slow return to normal, he said.
"We're not out of the woodwork just yet. I think we're going to see a lot more with mental health issues as the pandemic does pass."
Running as therapy
Dib chose running as a means to raise funds because it helped his physical and mental health following rehab from a back injury.
"It is a two way benefit in that I am maintaining my physical health but it really has done a lot for my mental health as well."
Mental health is what unites us all because we're all affected by it indirectly and directly. — Dominique Dib
Prior to his rehab, he never enjoyed running, Dib said.
"For me, running was something that I would never have considered in my past."
Strides from Tignish to Elmira
Dib began his fundraising run from Tignish to Elmira on July 3. He is running on the Confederation Trail.
I've had so many people reach out to me on social media asking how they can donate. — Dominique Dib
He chose to run in Prince Edward Island because the province is "the perfect venue" for it, he said.
"I've experienced the Confederation Trail before, visiting the Island when we come up here in the summers. I love the trail, I love the nature, I love the people, I married an Islander. There were just so many positive things making Prince Edward Island, and in particular the Confederation Trail, the perfect path."
He's enjoying his run so far, he said. He hopes to complete it by July 12.
Dib said he has received a good amount of support so far. His work colleagues raised almost $1,000 to donate.
"I've had so many people reach out to me on social media asking how they can donate," he said.
Dib said he hopes his run inspires others to join the cause to raise awareness.
"I fully embrace everybody, anyone who wants to come out on the trail and join me to do so, but just as equally important is for them to take their own initiatives and raise awareness and raise support for Canadian Mental Health Association."
Knowing the potential impact of his run means a lot to him, Dib said.
"It means everything to me. I'm so grateful that the Canadian Mental Health Association, Atlantic Division's got behind this campaign. They've really gone above and beyond to support me with this," he said.
"Mental health is what unites us all because we're all affected by it indirectly and directly. I say that with confidence because I haven't met a single person in my life that has said that they've never had a bout with mental health issues or know somebody who hasn't."
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