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Meet the psychologist who is cycling across Canada to fundraise for youth mental health

By Joe Thomson Sep 14, 2023 | 11:40 AM

Dr. Alex DiGiacomo has been cycling across Canada to advocate for youth mental healthcare. (Courtesy of Alex DiGiacomo).

Dr. Alex DiGiacomo is a Canadian Psychologist who has spent the last few weeks biking across the country to advocate for access to child and youth mental healthcare.

According to the Canadian Mental health association, one in six children struggle with mental health issues, but more than 75 percent of them do not get the care and support they need from registered professionals. DiGiacomo wants to change that.

She is self-described as not being an athlete and was not a cyclist until three months ago when she bought her first bike. She says that her inexperience was the reason why the idea was so appealing to her.

“What I wanted to do was sort of symbolically demonstrate what it’s like to face something that feels insurmountable and something that feels very uncertain, because that’s what these parents and kids are facing. They’re struggling, not primarily because of their mental health symptoms, but because they’re alone in their mental health symptoms,” said DiGiacomo.

Trying to deal with depression or anxiety without the proper help can sometimes feel as daunting as trying to bike across the country with no prior experience, says DiGiacomo.

Dr. Alex DiGiacomo did not even own a bike until three months before she embarked on her cross Canada journey. (Photo courtesy of Alex DiGiacomo).

Her mission is to raise awareness and funds to help people get the treatment they need, and she’s made a significant dent so far. DiGiacomo says she’s raised $30,000 of her $50,000 goal and there’s still two weeks left in her fundraising campaign.

DiGiacomo spoke with us while she was stopped in Saint John New Brunswick. She will embark on the final leg of her journey tomorrow when she travels through Nova Scotia to end up in Halifax. She says the highs of the journey have been extremely high, like when she travelled through the prairies and really got to enjoy the beauty around her during long 200km days. But the lows have been equally as low, like when she cycled along the Coquiholla Highway in British Columbia with a steep drop to one side of her and transport trucks whizzing past on the other.

Despite it all, DiGiacomo says she’s enjoyed every moment of the journey and has learned a lot about herself, and her mission along the way.

“I’m proud that I was able to fight through those couple of months, which were really hard because I felt very lonely to try to put this thing together that I didn’t actually think would work,” said DiGiacomo.

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