CMHA is kicking off Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 1-7, 2017, with an eye-catching invention.
Vancouverites out for a morning walk may have seen an unusual sight: a dark cloud hovering directly over the head of a young person walking through the park, tracking their movements and following them wherever they went.
What they saw was the “CloudCopter” – a drone disguised as a cloud – intended to raise awareness of depression and anxiety, particularly in young people.
It is estimated that 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness. However, fewer than one in five will receive the help they need, partly because depression and anxiety can be difficult to recognize, particularly in the teen years.
CMHA BC is reaching out to B.C. youth to encourage them to check in on their mental health at www.bouncebacktoday.ca. Bounce Back® is a free, evidence-based program for mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety, which is now available to anyone ages 15 and up. Users work through exercises online, or with a doctor’s referral a Bounce Back coach works with them by phone.
“Evidence shows that when caught early, and with the right help, recovery from depression and anxiety is possible,” explains Gutray. “The Bounce Back program offers this evidence-based self-management program for free throughout BC, without waitlists.”
To achieve the desired effect, a professional drone pilot hovered the cloud drone just a few feet above the heads of participants as they walked, recreating the familiar cartoon-like metaphor of a dark cloud looming over a person to simulate the sometimes isolating feelings that can come with depression.
“Many people describe their depression as a dark cloud,” says Gutray. “We wanted to use a visual that people could understand and get the word out that help is available.”
Pulling off the CloudCopter’s maiden flight wasn’t without its challenges.
“It’s surprisingly tricky to fly,” said certified drone operator Rob Massie, who piloted the CloudCopter. “The cloud material essentially turns the drone into a sail that can be pushed around by the slightest breeze. But the visual effect you get is really powerful.”
The CloudCopter exoskeleton is a custom-made cylindrical frame built to attach to a DJI Inspire drone. It was prototyped, constructed and painted by White Monkey, a Vancouver-based prop shop. The entire cloud attachment, including the frame, had to weigh less than one kilogram for the drone to carry it.
“It’s completely normal to feel down or anxious sometimes, but if those feelings start to be more and more pervasive or if they’re getting in the way of your life, it may be a problem and might be time to seek help,” says Bev Gutray. “It never hurts to check in with yourself from time to time.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, please call 310-6789 from anywhere in the province – no area code necessary.
Bounce Back® was created by CMHA BC in 2008 and is a core CMHA service that is available free to all British Columbians and is funded by the Provincial Health Services Authority and BC’s Ministry of Health.
About the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC)
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in hundreds of neighbourhoods across every province, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive. In BC, CMHA’s mandate includes people with substance use problems and those that love and support them.
Notes to editor:
The CloudCopter stunt was performed in a controlled area with all necessary insurance, drone flight and filming permits.
Bounce Back Today for Youth video – https://youtu.be/-Sa5wZYwpUg
To check in on your mental health and take the quiz go to www.bouncebacktoday.ca
For more information on CMHA BC services and programs go to www.cmha.bc.ca/programs-and-services/
Twitter – @CMHABC / #BounceBackToday / #MIAW17
Facebook – CMHA BC Division
Communications Coordinator – Media, CMHA BC Division
P: 604-688-3234 ext. 6326