by Andrew Woods
I sat down with Jimmy Whitlock last week to discuss his mental health fundraiser and awareness campaign, The Jersey Challenge. Jimmy hopes his fundraiser will spread awareness of mental health challenges and promote mental wellness in his community. His campaign aims to provide better accessibility to housing, healthy food options, and member-centered care.
The New View Society, founded in 1973 as a clubhouse providing support to people with mental health challenges, now operates several housing units, and offers a variety of community-based supports to its members.
Jimmy first heard about the New View Society in his Applied Psychology class. A member from the clubhouse spoke to his class, and inspired Jimmy to begin fundraising for New View. Ten years later, Jimmy is once again raising money for the organization.
Jimmy’s idea to circulate jerseys printed with the New View logo stems from his passion for sports. According to Jimmy, sports have always played an important role in his life. Jimmy is encouraging people to wear the jerseys to community events and try to garner as much attention as possible – by using social media to share selfies and photos of the jerseys being worn.
Nominations are the driving force behind The Jersey Challenge. Jimmy says anyone can be nominated, by friends, colleagues, or family members. Nominees are given a jersey to wear publicly… and proudly.
It is difficult to miss the jerseys – they are bright green.
Jimmy encourages those who wear the jerseys to make a donation at his GoFundMe page. But ultimately, Jimmy believes his fundraiser is mostly centered on raising awareness around mental illness. The mental health cause hits home for Jimmy. Depression and anxiety run in his family, and he believes everyone who lives with mental health challenges deserves a chance at wellness and recovery.
Jimmy hopes to raise $5,000 for New View. He says that community and social supports are crucial to wellness, not just for those who live with mental illness, but for everyone. And New View, he says, is a community-based organization that deserves more attention.
Community-based supports have become increasingly important as institutionalization is phased out, and hospitals continue to struggle with capacity to serve patients with mental health concerns. There is enormous demand for these supports, and service providers such as New View are often under-resourced, despite receiving some Government funding.
Jimmy’s vision, to raise mental health awareness and support New View, is bold. He is active on social media promoting The Jersey Challenge and has plans to organize future community events to expand his fundraiser.
Jimmy, and others like him, represent a new generation of mental health champion – striving to improve the quality of life for so many who struggle with mental illness and addiction. Statistics show that mental illness rates are rising, and despite the availability of treatment options, many still fall through the mental healthcare gaps.
Many need what New View offers.
And many who live with mental health challenges, such as myself, are beyond grateful to the champions who passionately pursue mental wellness for all.
To learn more about The Jersey Challenge, or to make a donation, please visit: https://ca.gofundme.com/a-new-view-of-mental-wellness