[photos provided by Minds In Need of Attention]
Content warning: As this is an event occurring in conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, this article contains mentions of suicide and mental illness. If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please see our list of resources below. Always call 911 in an emergency.
Campus/Community Mental Health Resources:
Student Wellness Centre – 905-525-9140 ext. 27700 or online at wellness.mcmaster.ca
McMaster Emergency First Aid Response Team (EFRT) – (905)-522-4135
Canadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH) – 905 525-1250 (Hamilton) or online at camh.ca
St. Joseph’s Hospital Psychiatric – (905)-522-4941
In conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day 2019, local not-for-profit mental health organization Minds in Need of Attention (MINA) will be hosting their 7th annual Come Fly Away event at Hamilton’s Bayfront Park this Sunday, September 15th, from 3 – 6 PM.
As its name suggests, Come Fly Away is a kite-flying event. It originated in 2012, with MINA founder Mariam Yousefi’s desire to unite the community in healing after the loss of her sister.
“It was a chance to bring the community together to raise mental health awareness, to remember those we lost to suicide and to also celebrate and encourage those who are suffering from a mental illness. They are survivors,” says Yousefi.
The flying of kites at Come Fly Away isn’t arbitrary. It is a form of physical activity, which can help improve physical and mental health. It also symbolizes a connection to those that have been lost, and fosters a sense of wonder and community.
“I never flown a kite before, and when I did at MINA’s first Come Fly Away event, it was just an awesome experience. I had a moment and others do too,” Yousefi adds.
Since last year, yoga has also been part of the event. According to Yousefi, this is due to its associations with deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness, and its ability to mitigate some of the negative impacts of anxiety and stress. Several community partners with a focus on mental health will also have booths at the event, to share important local mental health resources.
The event is free of charge to attend and community-driven. Funds raised from donations or from the purchase of raffle tickets will go towards MINA's Listen/Silent program, which educates youth on the importance of being aware of and looking after their mental health through arts initiatives.
Yousefi also hopes to create a conversation around mental illness through the event, through a safe and welcoming atmosphere.
“We have received many individuals who have personally spoken to me about their experiences with mental illness," she says. "It’s vulnerable but we have created a safe space. Everyone there understands one another even when a word is not shared."
...We have created a safe space. Everyone there understands one another even when a word is not shared.
The event is pet-friendly, family-friendly, and all are welcome to attend.
“We want to see our blue sky on Sunday dancing with beautiful kites for mental health…One day at a time, one kite at a time. I would like to build mentally healthier communities for youth today and for our children tomorrow,” says Yousefi.
One day at a time, one kite at a time. I would like to build mentally healthier communities for youth today and for our children tomorrow.