Meet Juanna

Sometimes the help we really need is right in front of us.

Juanna was more than a year into her battle with depression. She had gone from what she describes as a privileged and professional life to a place where she found she was unable to care for herself physically or mentally. She needed help and moved in with her mother. Along with depression, Juanna was diagnosed with anxiety. So for that first year, her mother accompanied her wherever she went. Together, they went to all of Juanna’s appointments - to see her family doctor, her psychologist, her psychiatrist and to a mental health clinic in Halifax.

On one memorable day when her mother was feeling under the weather, Juanna went to an appointment on her own. "I was walking down the sidewalk and I happened to look up and see a sign right in front of me that I had never noticed before – Canadian Mental Health. I walked in, and I met Marg, the lady who saved me."

Marg Murray is co-manager at the Halifax-Dartmouth branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the coordinator of their Building Bridges program. Juanna immediately felt a connection with Marg and the people she met at CMHA. "Everybody there had mental health issues just like me. They were people of all ages and backgrounds, all accepting and welcoming. Everyone was so warm and inviting, I felt at home." She started attending some activities and then branched out to other programs. Slowly, Juanna began to feel like herself again.

A combination of clinical treatment and activities has brought Juanna to where she is today. But she credits Marg, CMHA Halifax-Dartmouth and the programs and activities funded by United Way Halifax as being critical to her breakthrough.

Today, Juanna still attends social events at CMHA and she lends a hand at the office - helping to organize events and finding joy and fulfillment in the process. She has become an advocate for others who are doing their best to navigate the mental health system in Halifax, and she has recently joined the board at CMHA. "It feels good. I feel like I have a voice and can help others," she said.

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Without CMHA and the funding they receive from United Way Halifax, I wouldn’t be sitting here, so far ahead of where I was a few years ago.

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