A 28-year-old man from Peterborough is walking across Canada to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Neil Hamilton's walk for mental health will see him walk a remarkable 7,000 kilometres from Newfoundland to British Columbia. He has covered a little over 1,000 kilometres so far, after starting his journey in St. John's, Newfoundland, this April in a bid to raise awareness and funding for mental health organizations.
After being diagnosed with PTSD, Hamilton realized the struggles of navigating the mental health system and wants to see a change. CTV News reports he had witnessed a fatal car crash in 2017 which involved a 35-year-old woman named Samantha. She was killed in a head-on collision with another driver. The accident happened in front of Hamilton while he was in the car behind hers.
Hamilton tried to pull the victim out of the car's wreckage but was unsuccessful, and she died before his eyes. The memories of the experience became debilitating, and it was a year and a half until he was diagnosed with PTSD.
"I was referred for treatment by the CMHA and for the next year and a half my local hospital misplaced my file multiple times, and finally after a year and a half, I was put on a two-year waitlist," He told Narcity today. "I never got that treatment. It was then that I realised that this was a massive problem with our mental health system."
"I just slowly realized, through my own PTSD, that it was next to impossible for people who weren't high income to get treatment for mental health disorders," Hamilton told Narcity. "Even when they could, the system is very decentralized, understaffed and underfunded."
Now, Hamilton has embarked on a mission to get the word out on improving the mental health system in Canada.
"The funds I raise go towards a different agency in each province. Here it's all going to the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia," he added to Narcity. He is currently in New Brunswick, near Port Hawksfield.
If you'd like to donate to the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, you can do so here.
You can also donate directly at Hamilton's GoFundMe page to help him with resources during his Walk4Samantha.
Hamilton also said he wants people "to try to be more open to the idea that mental health is equally as important as physical health."
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 49 percent of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.