WATCH: Red Deer walks to reduce stigma associated with schizophrenia

First annual Strides for Hope walk takes place across Alberta

For its first awareness walk, the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta had sizable group of Red Deerians out for a stroll downtown.

About 50 to 70 people walked around downtown Thursday carrying signs in support of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta. They departed from the organization’s downtown Red Deer office just around lunch time as one of six cities in Alberta taking part in the event.

Rubyann Rice, Schizophrenia Society of Alberta provincial executive director, took part in Red Deer’s walk, saying it was mostly about addressing the stigma associated with the mental disorder.

“Some misconceptions are that it is multi personality disorder, that people with schizophrenia are violent and that people can’t live meaningful or purposeful lives with schizophrenia,” said Rice. “We believe in recovery and we definitely know that people can quality lives with proper treatment and care.”

The walk took place on World Schizophrenia Day and Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman made an official declaration recognizing it in Alberta. Other walks took place in Lethbridge, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Camrose and Edmonton.

It was also a chance to promote the programs, support networks and services offered by the society.

“We provide programs for people with schizophrenia and peer support programs,” said Rice. “One in 100 people are diagnosed with schizophrenia. So in Alberta, that’s over 40,000 people.”

The walk was more than just about shedding the stigma, but also asking for donations to support the society’s work.

The society has six branches across Alberta and owns and operates three supportive hosing facilities which house 53 people in Alberta.

According to the society, it is a treatable disorder and the majority of people will experience either considerable reduction in symptoms after treatment or no further symptoms.

For more information about the society and what is available in Red Deer visit www.schizophrenia.ab.ca.

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