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A young Winnipeg activist was recently recognized for her work in promoting awareness and care for mental health.

Rachel Beazley, who struggles herself with numerous mental illnesses, was named a winner of the 2018 Terry Fox Humanitarian Award over the weekend.

The 20-year-old was both thrilled and humbled to have been named a recipient of the award.

"The Terry Fox Humanitarian Award makes me feel very validated for the work I'm doing, and it also is a sign to me that this recognition is going to snowball. When people see that good things are happening, then maybe they'll be inspired to do stuff as well," Beazley shared.

The award recognizes individuals dedicated to furthering the humanitarian ideals of Terry Fox, and their courage in overcoming obstacles.

With this in mind, Beazley is certainly a worthy recipient. Her advocacy work in the area of mental health, a cause she experiences very personally, has focused on raising awareness and erasing stigma surrounding the mental illnesses so many suffer from.

Currently, the young advocate is finishing her term as one of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health's Faces of Mental Illness. She began working as a part of that campaign in July of 2017 and has enjoyed the platform as a way of sharing her story.

"Anyone in Canada can have a face, or a name, or a story," says Beazley. "But they don't have to feel alone when dealing with mental illness."

Beazley has also been authoring a blog for 24STRONG, an organization that aims to empower young women to be their true selves.

Despite her phenomenal advocacy work, the 20-year-old wishes to remind people that the road to recovery with mental illness is seldom linear. After experiencing a setback earlier this month, resulting in her admittance to a Winnipeg hospital for mental health treatment.

"Right now, I'm sitting abt my cottage about to have my cousins over for a fun time at the beach," said Beazley. "That's a good day. This morning I was writing and doing some advocacy work, that's still a good day.

"Yesterday wasn't as good, I was a bit dysregulated and I needed to take out my skills workbook for my therapy... it actually wasn't a very good day."

The journey to embracing mental health, though, is filled with high points and low points. 

"I'm actually in the process of getting more therapy to help lift me out of [this] low point," shared Beazley.

To others potentially experiencing a similar situation, Beazley encourages 

"No matter what happens in our lives, our stories are still ongoing," she says, "and even if we have one setback, it doesn't mean that the next day we can't have a really uplifting moment, and we can't push forward.

"For anything hard in life, keep going, because without you, the world would not be the same."

 

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