Press Releases

June 19, 2013

CYCLING ACROSS ONTARIO FOR MENTAL HEALTH

A  Journey To Raise Awareness That Exercise Is A Means To Mental Health.

For 21 days this summer, Jessica VandenBussche will tackle a 3,000 kilometre trek across Ontario by bicycle. Her goal? To make Ontarians aware that exercise is an excellent option to treat those with mental illness.

Starting out in Thunder Bay on June 21, the 24-year old Kinesiology major will ride as far as 135 kilometres per day to spread her message. She hopes to stop along the way to give talks and lead fitness activities at schools, mental health units, fitness centres, and anyone else that will listen.

Mental illness accounts for 14% of the world's diseases. Nationally, 1/5 of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Many more will be affected by it, through a loved one who suffers. There are many treatment methods, but, says VandeBussche, “there is no one ‘best practice’ for treating mental illness. Medication is not always effective. And psycho-therapy is financially out of reach for many Canadians.” But VandenBussche points out there is one form of treatment that is free, accessible, sustainable and potentially highly effective: physical activity.

Balanced exercise has been proven to enhance brain function, mood and overall health. According to some doctors, physical activity can be more effective than therapy or medication by

helping the patient learn new thinking strategies.  Physical activity can help someone with anxiety relax by releasing feel-good hormones. Community-oriented exercise can help everyone make friends and increase their support network

Although seeking professional help may still be necessary, exercise is an important aspect of the treatment plan and a very accessible and inexpensive way to get started. Jessica’s goal is to spread this message and hope in the future mental health agencies and the medical profession will come together to implement fitness strategies when treating those with mental illness.

The northern leg of her journey will take her from Thunder Bay to Providence Bay from June 21 to the 29th. .

June 21

Thunder Bay/Gravel river

June 22

Gravel river/Marathon

June 23

Marathon/Wawa

June 24

Wawa/Batchawana Bay

June 25

Batchawana Bay/Laird

June 26

Rest Sault Ste. Marie

June 27

Laird/Blind River

June 28

Blind River/Providence Bay

June 29

Providence Bay / Bruce Peninsula

For a complete schedule and route map please visit the website at

http://www.strongfreehappy.ca/

https://www.facebook.com/StrongFreeHappyAcrossCanada

@strongfreehappy

Questions can be directed to: Kelley McNamara  519-909-8966  strongfreehappy@gmail.com


June 20, 2013

Training Accident Will Not Put the Brakes on Ride for Mental Health

In spite of an injury last week that saw her hospitalized, Jessica VandenBussche will begin her epic ride across Ontario to spread the word that exercise is a means to mental health.

“Traveling across Ontario by bike is a little bit crazy and whole lot scary,” says VandenBussche, “but it's nothing compared to the challenges 1/5 of Canadians face when dealing with a mental illness. One in five means there's a high likelihood that some of you, or people you really care about have or are suffering.”  Regular exercise can help alleviate that suffering, and can be a real, sustainable and affordable treatment for those suffering from depression and other mental health issues.

Studies have shown that aerobic activity that raises your heart rate for half an hour can have the same  effect on your brain chemistry as an anti-depressant by releasing “feel-good” hormones. Having a goal such as a first race or better time gives the patient focus. Community based activity can help the patient make friends and increase their support network.

Jessica’s goal with the cross- province ride is to bring together community groups, caregivers, fitness professionals and educators to get a dialogue going, and to raise funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association to help implement programs.

Her Journey begins in Thunder Bay on Friday, and she expects to make it to Gravel River the first night. She invites everyone get involved in any number of way. For ways to get involved, visit the ride website  - StrongFreeHappy.ca.

Follow the ride on twitter : @strongfreehappy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StrongFreeHappyAcrossCanada

Contact: Kelley McNamara   strongfreehappy@gmail.com


June 25

Weather and Wind Set the Stage in the Ride Across Ontario for Mental Health

After two full days of cycling through Northern Ontario, Jessica VandenBussche is beginning to understand the meaning of the word “Challenge”. VandenBussche  and riding partner Theo Vanderlee are undertaking the Strong Free and Happy  bicycling tour to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise; unite communities over sustainable physical activity; and help the Canadian Mental Health Association with their mission to improve mental health resources.

Day one proved to be cold and rainy, with VandenBussche and Vanderlee pushing through strong headwinds to travel 144 kilometres. Day two saw the pair conquer 120 kilometers of pavement, with better weather and lighter winds, but with more hills.

 “It was tough, but not as tough as the challenge someone faces when they are suffering depression or another mental health disorder,” said the 24 year-old kinesiology graduate.

Mental illness accounts for 14% of the world's diseases. Nationally, 1/5 of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Many more will be affected by it, through a friend or loved one who suffers. There are many treatment methods, but, says VandeBussche, “there is no one ‘best practice’ for treating mental illness. Medication is not always effective, and psycho-therapy is financially out of reach for many Canadians.” But VandenBussche points out that physical activity is one form of treatment that is free, accessible, sustainable and potentially highly effective.

 

Through the ride, Jessica hopes to reach health care practitioners, teachers, student leaders, mental health workers, police and fitness experts to start a dialogue on the connection between mental health and physical fitness.

 

The northern leg of her journey continues from Marathon to Providence Bay from June 21 to the 29th. .

 


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