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‘I felt I wasn’t alone’: Ottawa’s Mental Health Gala gets the conversation going

A personal experience has turned into one of Ottawa’s biggest fund raisers to get the conversation going to remove the stigma of mental health in our community.

Amy Caruso founded the Ottawa Mental Health Gala (MHG) in 2017 as a way to cope with her own mental health struggles. Since then, Caruso has seen a change when it comes to talking about mental health at schools and workplaces.

“In 2014, I was dealing with my own mental health struggles after going through a very large life change and it wasn’t actually until 2017 – Bell Let’s Talk Day – I started seeing people posting online sharing their own stories,” Caruso told CTV Morning Live’s Rosey Edeh Thursday.

“And as cliché as it sounds, it’s kinda the first time that I felt I wasn’t alone. And that’s when I’ve decided I wanted to help people. I put my passion for event planning with my love of charity work and the Mental Health Gala was born.”

She notes that from 2017 to 2022, the MHG raised over $130,000 for The Royal and Do it for Daron.

After taking one year off to have her daughter, Caruso resumed her work in 2023 to raise funds for CHEO mental health services.

She says that the funds that will be raised this year at the gala will also be going CHEO mental health services, as the service it provides plays an important role in the province.

“Again this year, after last year raising $45,000, I’m donating again to CHEO Mental Health Services. They’re one of the largest providers in Ontario for mental health and since the pandemic, the increase, it’s been going up year after year for mental health patients,” she added.

The gala will take place on May 24 at Sala san Marco located at 215 Preston St. Though all 500 seats are sold out, Caruso the silent auction remains open for donations, accepting items, experiences or gift certificates from businesses.

The silent auction will be open to anyone starting May 18. To register, visit the gala’s website.

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