Defeat Depression Run: Bringing Attention to the Stigma of Depression

From the club that brings you doggy visits, UBC's Mental Health Awareness Club (MHAC) is bringing you the Defeat Depression Run! On March 12th, the MHAC has partnered up with UBC Recreation and Vancouver Defeat Depression to bring the Defeat Depression Run to campus. The run is consistently the MHAC’s largest event of the year and is open to the entire community. It is a non-competitive 5K walk/run that starts in the Nest and goes throughout campus. 

The goal of this event is to bring awareness to all mood disorders and mental health. The key is to get people talking and, in turn, to never stop talking. Last year, it was held on some faraway field somewhere on the UBC campus. This year, it is smack-dab in the center and calling attention to the very serious problem of the tendency to push aside the talk of depression.

Many may falsely believe that the intentions of the run are to completely defeat depression. “Defeat”, a heavy term loaded with high-strung optimism and hope, may very well garner some discontent regarding the name of this event. It is important to emphasize that the goal of this run is to “defeat” the stigma and not to necessarily “defeat” depression; rather, the goal is to accept the disease. HCUBC spoke with Maja, who was last year’s Events Coordinator and this year’s Co-President, who asked HCUBC to emphasize the point that it is not a competition! As a just-for-fun run, this event is meant to bring people together to exercise for the cause of defeating the stigma of depression. 

Following the end of the 5K, there will be a wellness fair set up in the Nest as people come back in. Here are some of the booths you can expect to see:

  • SASC
  • UBC Recreation Smoothie Bike 
  • MHAC Live Active (therapy colouring)
  • Canvas painting booth
  • And hopefully live music or a DJ (courtesy of CiTR)!

This event is very important for the UBC community because the post-secondary population tends to have overwhelmingly high rates of mental health challenges. In 2009, the National College Health Assessment found that 34,000 respondents from 57 post-secondary institutions reported the following:

  • 46% “felt things were hopeless”
  • 47% had “overwhelming anxiety”
  • 30% were “so depressed it is difficult to function”
  • 18% were “diagnosed or treated by a professional for mental health issues”

The City of Vancouver itself also has one of the highest recorded rates of mental health problems. The following reported statistics are courtsey of the City of Vancouver Community Services:

  • 57% feel hopeless
  • 70% feel sadness
  • 36% have depression
  • Only 14% seeked help  

It should come as no surprise that, although these statistics are terrifying, they are very real. Despite these numbers, the topic is still on the hush-hush. The importance of increasing discussion is not only to bring awareness, but to increase the sense of community amongst those who suffer from depression.

In a community with over 50,000 people, UBC is an overwhelming institute. This can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness. One would think that being part of a large community would facilitate more relationships, right? In actuality, being in such a large environment requires one to put a higher level of energy and effort in order to go out and make friends. With people broadcasting their lives all over social media, it is understandable why some may feel lonely when they see others socializing. This causes some to think that everyone else is doing great – that they have their academics on the right track, a great group of close friends, a stable job, and still get enough sleep, and that they are the only ones feeling this way. With such a large stigma looming about, many feel as if they are supposed to be able to handle depression alone. One of the main messages of this 5K walk/run is to spread the word that you are not alone if you are dealing with depression and that there are people here to help. 

Between 70-100 people made it out to the run last year, but the MHAC and Live Active Outreach from UBC Recreation are determined to bring more people out – so make sure to register ahead or just show up on the day of!


All images taken from MHAC's Facebook page.