I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Women for Women’s Luncheon supporting Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and advancing women’s health on November 4, 2014. Each year, this amazing fundraiser brings attention to a different health issue affecting women. Last year, the discussion concerned breast cancer and this year, the focus was on mental health, primarily depression.
The panel consisted of Dr. Marla Shapiro who moderated the discussion, Dr. Simone Vigod, psychiatrist and researcher at Women’s College Hospital, Erin Davis, daytime host of 98.1 CHFI and Elizabeth Manley, Olympic silver-medalist and former competitive figure skater.
The event was held at the iconic Fairmount Royal York Hotel in the heart of Toronto. Over 800 guests attended, making this year’s luncheon their biggest. The reception started at 11:15 a.m. where attendees could mingle and check out the incredible door prizes while enjoying a white or red wine. Media were invited into the VIP reception area for a few minutes to have a one-on-one with members of the panel. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to speak with Erin Davis from 98.1 CHFI and Elizabeth Manley, silver medalist. They were charming, approachable and upfront about suffering depression at various times in their lives. After meeting today for the first time, they each learned that they both came from army families and each lived in Trenton during their childhoods. Both had their own challenges in recognizing they were depressed and then seeking help.
There seems to be this notion that if you have a good career, a good partner, a nice family life, a nice home or any one of these, that it is not possible to be depressed. However, the reality is that anyone at any age can be suffering from depression.
Due to our very busy schedules, high expectations, high costs of living, and aging parents, more and more women juggling home and work life are suffering from some degree of depression and the numbers are expected to rise. This is the driving force behind Women’s College Hospital’s one-of-a-kind program dedicated to women’s mental health focusing on innovative health treatment, education and research. The goal is to maximize access to clinical services for more women in need, concentrating on female-specific issues.
Singer Kathleen Edwards performed songs from her latest CD, Voyageur.
The room was also entertained by Colleen Moorehead and Mary-Martin Morris, Co-Chairs for Women for Women’s. They were witty, upbeat, and honest, driving home the message of how vital the donations were to support Women’s College Hospital’s ground-breaking work. Custom Pink Bricks with the Women’s College Hospital logo on them were also for sale during the luncheon at a cost of $1,000. The message is “Building a better future one brick at a time.”
Throughout the panel discussion, attendees were treated to a delicious lunch of Chicken Caesar Salad, a variety of rolls and breadsticks, white or red wine, followed by a scrumptious dessert with coffee or tea. Each attendee also received a gift bag filled with John Frieda products.
Both Erin Davis and Elizabeth Manley had final messages they wished attendees to take away with them:
- Keep asking for help; don’t be afraid to admit you need help. (Elizabeth Manley)
- Acts of kindness make a huge difference in people’s lives. Take the time to give compliments to friends, families and complete strangers. (Elizabeth Manley)
- It takes courage to be vulnerable and is freeing to let down the armour. (Erin Davis)
- Don’t be judgmental of others. (Erin Davis)
Overall, the event was a huge success from choice of venue, moderators, guest speakers, giveaways, lunch menu and of course, the donations. But most of all, I believe it will encourage discussion around the topic of depression and enable and encourage sufferers to seek help.