Thursday, February 6th saw over 70 people joining together in the Stettler Performing Arts Centre for an evening of music to bring about further understanding of, and empathy towards those with Mental Health issues. Kalysta Miller was a student at Wm. E. Hay, Stettler, before dying by suicide in February of 2017. To honour
the memory of their daughter, sister and cousin, Kalysta’s family has been raising awareness through this charity event over the past two years. Her mother, Lesa Miller, spoke passionately that evening, about nearly losing her son to the effects of depression and social anxiety, then to have the same happen to Kalysta. Lesa is trying to raise awareness, inspire others to reach out for help and to help others, and to reduce the shame and the stigma associated with seeking mental health services. "I will always grieve the loss of my beautiful daughter, but the above mentioned reasons are why I created Music for Mental Health."
Lesa introduced the guest speakers for the evening. Representing the Canadian Mental Health Association of Central Alberta was Executive Director, Christine Stewart, who talked about the role the CMHA plays to support the community and her own personal passion to ensure everyone has hope and reliable access to care.
Former NHL player, Bob Wilkie was on hand to tell his story of pain, loss and growth. As a survivor of the tragic 1986 Swift Current Broncos bus accident which killed four of his teammates, Bob was ill equipped to deal with the trauma of the accident and the great expectations of an NHL athlete. He experienced depression, substance abuse, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, but once he started openly sharing his thoughts and seeking help for his issues, he was able to turn his life around. He now travels across Canada on the 'I Got Mind Tour' to promote mental health wellness in sports for athletes, parents of athletes and coaches.
The next speaker was Chatea-Lynn Moore, a young woman who has overcome her own battles with depression and anxiety with the love and support of her family and friends. Through public speaking, she encourages others to seek help when needed and has become a role model for other young adults suffering from mental illness.
As Kalysta was a music lover, Lesa wanted to have a concert atmosphere as part of the evening. Tobi Vos is a local solo act who has been performing for more than 20 years, having lived in Nashville pursuing a vocal and song-writing career. She now calls Central Alberta home, and loves to perform whenever her family and career commitments allow. Local band, Herle Maggard, comprised of Charles Lacroix, Andrew Comchi, and Steve Powell with special guests Nick Schmidt and Darci Christine helped to back up Tobi's stunning performance.
Rounding out the evening was Stettler's own Jazz group, The Jazz Guys. This band consists of several original members from their start 18 years ago, as well as newer (and some younger) players, all with enormous talents and community spirit. They were joined on stage by vocalist Amanda Hawkins and all were deeply honoured to participate in the evening's event, in the hope that these concerts bring about further awareness and inspiration for those who suffer.
All funds raised at these events are donated to Family and Community Social Services (FCSS) specifically for youth counselling and care, with the hopes that other families never have to endure life without their children.
For more information about suicide awareness please go to suicideinfo.ca.
Photos provided by Herle Maggard and Lesa Miller