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Events planned for Beyond the Blues

If you thought you had depression or chronic anxiety, would you feel comfortable telling your doctor about it? In a new poll of British Columbians, more than eight in 10 (84 per cent) agreed they would discuss these common mental health issues with t

If you thought you had depression or chronic anxiety, would you feel comfortable telling your doctor about it? In a new poll of British Columbians, more than eight in 10 (84 per cent) agreed they would discuss these common mental health issues with their doctor, while just over one in 10 respondents (12 per cent) disagreed.

Conducted by Mustel Group, the poll was commissioned by the Canadian Mental Health Association to launch the 15th annual Beyond the Blues: Depression Anxiety Education and Screening Day, held during national Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Beyond the Blues is an annual awareness day to engage people to learn more about mood disorders, which affect about one in seven in a lifetime, and anxiety disorders, which affect one in six, as well as related issues like suicide and risky drinking.

For Beyond the Blues 2009, more than 60 local events will be set up across B.C. on Oct. 8 and throughout the month. Since 1995, this high-profile community education event has reached out to more than 40,000 British Columbians.

On the Sunshine Coast, the Town of Gibsons proclaimed Oct. 4 to 10 as mental illness awareness week. The District of Sechelt will make the same proclamation at their Oct. 7 council meeting.

FORCE Society for Kids' Mental Health and the B.C. Schizophrenia Society Sunshine Coast branch are coming together to hold a depression anxiety education and screening day with volunteers from both societies as well as volunteers from Child and Youth Mental Health, B.C. Ministry of Housing and Social Development and the general public. Tables will be at the Trail Bay Mall in Sechelt on Oct. 8 from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunnycrest Mall in Gibsons from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 9.

Those who choose to participate in thescreenings can be assured that theyare free, anonymous and confidential.

"A major goal of our Beyond the Blues campaign is to support people who end up being at risk for depression or anxiety and connect them to their family doctor or health care provider for more complete follow-up," said Sarah Hamid-Balma, director of public education for the Canadian Mental Health Association's B.C. division and provincial co-ordinator for Beyond the Blues.

"Although the poll indicates the majority strongly agree [56 per cent], the remainder isn't entirely confident or comfortable in starting these conversations. So we still have work to do, and we hope Beyond the Blues can help."

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