BY ASHA SWANN
Monaghans Sports Pub in Oakville hosted a fundraiser last weekend, donating the proceeds to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The event was organized by Brian Fogel, a musician from Stoney Creek, who takes the issue of mental health very seriously.
Fogel’s goal for the event was to raise awareness on the realities of mental health.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is to help break the stigma about mental illness,” he said.
Fogel believes that breaking down stereotypes is crucial to helping those who are struggling.
“You bring up mental illness and the first thing that comes up for the majority of people in the world is . . . crazy person,” he said. “To break down that stigma, awareness is so important. There’s not enough of it.”
The need for prescription medication is also a contributor to the stigma around mental illness, according to Fogel.
“People that have mental illness, a lot of them need medication,” he said. “Somebody that has a different wiring system in their brain, different brain activity, needs medicine. That is controversial.”
For Fogel, having access to this medication is essential for him to be productive in his day-to-day life.
“I’ve been dealing with [mental illness] all my life. I’m on medication now,” he said. “Without it, I can’t function. I can’t leave the house, I can’t write an email, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t do anything.”
He once tried to go off his medication, but had very negative results.
“I would end up in the hospital,” Fogel said. “I would end up in psych wards.”
He also believes that more money needs to be put into research initiatives, and while some work is being done, there is still a very long way to go.
“There’s not enough money being put into research for mental illness, so they’re only in the beginning of being able to understand it,” Fogel said. “This is something that is going to take years. We’re probably decades away.”
In his experience, the younger generation is most educated on these issues.
“The ones coming out of university now to become doctors, they’re the one who are being trained about mental illness,” said Fogel. “I went to The Advanced Mind Center in Burlington, basically crawling there, begging for help, and the young doctor there must have been just out of med school, helped me by referring to a specific combination of medications. He analyzed my situation, a young person.”
But you don’t have to be a doctor to support loved ones struggling. According to Fogel, it can be as easy as reaching out and asking what they need.
“We have friends with mental illness,” he said. “We have to care about them. We say, ‘How can I help? What can I do to help you?’ ”
While Saturday’s fundraiser wasn’t an annual event, it came just days before #BellLetsTalk another initiative to raise money for mental health research, which happens every year.
The event began at 9:30, and the bar was packed full of people until it finished around 2 a.m.
Tickets to the event were $25, which included a $15 meal voucher and five raffle tickets.
After expenses, all proceeds from the fundraiser went right to the CMHA. Several hundred dollars were donated to the local Halton branch.