Musical evening in Stettler remembers youth, raises awareness for mental health

Stettler event raises awareness of mental health issues with human story

By Emily Jaycox For the Independent

“Music for Mental Health,” held Feb. 7 at the Performing Arts Centre, remembered a young girl who lost her battle to depression and raised awareness about mental health and suicide.

The event was organized by Lesa Miller, the mother of Kalysta Miller, who died by suicide two years ago when she was 16.

“I did it for my daughter and to raise awareness,” said Miller.

Kalysta loved music and singing, so her mother felt it was most fitting to hold an event based around music, rather than a walk or run.

Three local bands volunteered their time and musical talents to perform for the evening: Renegade Station, Loose Change and The Jazz Guys.

Renegade Station performed “Safe Harbour,” a song written about the struggle with depression.

Miller wanted to talk about mental health and the dire results it can have and remove some of the stigma by telling the stories of struggle within her family.

Between music sets, Miller spoke of her daughter, and also her son, who she says she almost lost to suicide five years ago.

A friend of the family spoke for Miller’s niece, reading her survivor’s story of mental illness and depression, and what it was like to lose her cousin.

Other mental health professionals spoke as well, sharing information about signs to watch for, and things to say or not say, to people with depression.

Miller called the evening “educational, emotional and fun,” adding she’s “only heard good things.”

The event sold 59 tickets, mostly at the door, and raised $1,753.50.

The money is being donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) youth department.

“I think it was a very good turnout for a first-time event,” adding she hopes it will be even bigger next year.

There will be different speakers next year, and the bands have already signed on for next year.

From the second annual event and onwards, fund raised will stay within Stettler, as Miller now knows she can donate directly to Stettler mental health services.

To youth who may be facing mental illness or depression, Miller says “talk to your parents and get in to see a counsellor … stay strong and realize things will get better.”

Crisis services are available in Stettler by calling the hospital’s emergency department or by calling 9-1-1.

For suicide prevention and support, call the 24-hour Canada suicide prevention support line toll free at 1-833-456-4566.

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