One in 5 Canadians suffer from a mental health illness and young Canadians ages 15 – 24 are more likely to experience mental illness than any other age group, says Contiki. The youth travel brand, along with millions of Canadians, will join the conversation about mental health awareness on Jan. 31 as part of ‘Bell Let’s Talk Day’, now in its eighth year.
In this edition of Friday 5, we hear from social media influencer Alayna Fender (@MissFenderr), whose 3-part video series about travelling with anxiety is posted at contiki.com/six-two/alayna-fender-travelling-anxiety as part of Contiki’s The Travel Project.
Also taking part in this special edition Friday 5 is Gabrielle Nydam, President, Contiki Canada.
On Jan. 31, for every retweet and share of Contiki Canada’s #BellLetsTalk posts on @ContikiCanada’s Twitter and @Contiki Facebook accounts, Contiki will donate 10 cents to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.
Alayna Fender (@MissFenderr), Social Media Influencer1. What were 3 things on Contiki’s ‘Berlin to Budapest’ trip that got you out of your comfort zone and stay with you today as the most memorable parts of your travel experience?
“Going on a bike tour around Prague was something that I was so nervous to take part in. I hadn’t been on a bike in a while, and my anxiety had me worried about hurting myself, and thinking, ‘what if I’m not able to keep up with the group?’ These worries turned out to be completely unfounded, and not only was I reminded of my love for biking, but biking around Prague turned out to be the highlight of my trip!
“The river tour in Budapest was another adventure that I almost didn’t go on, because I got nervous that I may get seasick. Again, I almost didn’t go at all because of something that might not even happen. That’s the theme of my entire anxiety life. I went on the cruise. It was incredible.
“Meeting all of the new people, as a solo traveller, was a huge part of my entire Contiki experience. Going to that first kick-start meeting alone, not knowing anyone at all, and leaving with some lifelong friends was a hugely memorable part of my trip!”
2. What did you like the most about Contiki’s travel style?
“I loved the idea of the ‘suggested structure’ format. Where we were going, how we were getting there, and where we were staying was all planned out for us, and we didn’t have to worry about a thing. Once we were in each city, all of the must-see places and must-do activities were included in the schedule, but they were there as a suggestion. If you want to go on every tour, and do every activity, you can do that. If you want to skip the entire day and wander around on your own, you can do that too! I just loved the freedom and flexibility of it all.”
Gabrielle Nydam, President, Contiki Canada3. Is this Contiki’s first year getting involved with Bell Let’s Talk Day, and how will Contiki be participating?
“Yes, it is our first time joining forces with Bell and amplifying their ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ message. Contiki will also be donating the funds we help raise to the CAMH Foundation who focuses on supporting research and giving care to Canadians with mental illness and addiction issues.”
4. Why is this issue so important for Contiki?
“According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), young Canadians are more likely to experience mental illness than any other age group; with half of working millennials reporting that they’d dealt with depression at some point in their lives.
“While mental health affects us all, millennials – our own travellers – are hardest hit by it. This initiative was something we had to support and it also coincided with the ‘wellness’ theme that we had planned to focus on this year, including our ‘The Power of Travel’ research that showcased some of the direct benefits travel can have on millennials, such as increasing one’s likeliness to living a happier life.
“We had also explored the topic of mental health with Alayna this past fall and her story truly struck a chord with our travellers. While many travellers suffer from anxiety, it was her tenacity to challenge herself to overcome her fears and deal head-on with the barriers she felt as a result of anxiety that really stuck with Canadians.
“Her story of pushing herself outside of her confront zone and coming back a better version of herself was truly inspirational. Her story is one that many in our travel industry can relate to – whether they have clients who are like her or they themselves suffer from anxiety.
“With all that said, we also know that coping with anxiety isn’t that simple – travel isn’t the only way to cope with mental health. We recognize that travel isn’t necessarily accessible to all and for some, it’s not the solution they might need.
“That is why it’s crucial for everyone to support organizations, such as CAMH, that can help provide care, research and support for those that suffer from mental health. We encourage readers to find out more about mental illnesses and let people know that you’re not alone.”
5. How can travel agents get involved with and further the cause for Contiki and Bell Let’s Talk Day?
“On January 31, for every retweet and share of our #BellLetsTalk posts on @ContikiCanada’s Twitter and @Contiki Facebook accounts, we will donate 10 cents to CAMH. In addition to our own contribution, Bell will also donate 5 cents every time the #BellLetsTalk hashtag is used on Twitter.
“Simply put, the more engagement we get from our fellow travel industry colleagues and agent partners that day, the more we can give back.”