Mental health really does matter

Woodney Pierre By Gerald V. Paul
Woodney Pierre
By Gerald V. Paul

The Eyes Guy is all set to grace the 4th Annual Matty Jae Youth Foundation “All Wear White Affair” fundraiser, come Friday, April 29, at La Creole Restaurant, 810 St. Clair Ave. W.

In the name of mental health, All Wear White Affair founder Woodney Pierre welcomed the good news Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau has pledged support for mental health.

Trudeau said, “Whether we’re talking about its impact on young people, its impact on workplaces around the country, whether its impact on servicemen and women, we are only beginning to realize the scale, the scope of the problem.”

Trudeau’s cares on a personal level, too. His mother Margaret is an example of a person who struggled through this melancholy side of life.

“I wouldn’t be my mother’s son if I wasn’t a strong advocate for mental health,” Trudeau said.

Margaret, who penned her experiences in her book Changing My Mind, underwent decades of treatment for bipolar disorder.

And like Trudeau, All Wear White’s Pierre acknowledges there is no easy solution to mental health problems, particularly in indigenous communities.

But Pierre stressed this means collectively all community members must put their shoulders to the wheel and do their part in making a difference.

Pierre also commented on a new report from CivicAction which found half of the workforce in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton area – more than 1.5 million people – have experienced a mental health issue, and it’s having a huge impact on companies’ bottom line.

According to the report mental health issues are expected to cost almost $17 billion – with a B – in lost productivity over the next 10 years and about 71% of workers in the GTHA are worried about the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues in the workplace.

A concerned Pierre agreed that younger workers aged 18-34 experience the highest levels of workplace stress. They’re also more likely to be working for minimum wage and in precarious jobs, and they often don’t feel comfortable asking for time off.

And as for the All Wear White event, “It’s an amazing way to celebrate life, awareness regarding mental health and give back to the community,” said Canadian-born of Haitian-Bahamian roots Pierre.

Charming and dynamic, Pierre told the Eyes Guy on Tuesday over breakfast she is on a mission of vision and values to make the world a better place including the Caribbean and, of course, Guyana, where a trip is in the works to assist in a  holistic way in light of the mental health issues.

The Matty Jae Youth Foundation was founded in 2012 by Pierre in honour of her late brother Matthew Jean-Leger in hopes of raising awareness of mental health among youth through education and the arts.

“This tragic loss has opened my eyes to the importance of mental health awareness and because of that, I continue to educate, inspire and encourage people in schools, communities and the workplace to shine their light,” Pierre said.

Pierre, an amazing singer as witnessed by her performance at the Perspective Gala, is classically trained and exudes a soulful sound, with the ability to move seamlessly in and out of a variety of styles and beats. She has experienced a fruitful career in human resources and continues to play an active role in the community.

And on the international scene, she toured with the production company EMG Education to promote anti- bullying messages and educate through theatre about historical African-Canadian figures who have paved the way along the road to freedom and justice.

“Three things last forever: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. God is love,” Pierre exhorted the Eyes Guy.

See why I must be there come May 29, at La Creole Restaurant?