THUNDER BAY - Carloyn Karle lost her daughter Dayna to an unintentional drug overdose a little over a month ago and since that tragic loss she has been speaking out to end the stigma around addiction and ensuring people can get help when they need it most.
“We are in a major crisis. It’s very scary,” she said. “I have many folks coming to me and I’m in a group with mothers who have lost their children. I just never thought it would be something I would be a part of or see, so I need to get loud, I need to help end the stigma.”
Karle reached out to the local organization Kelly Mental Health, which organized its first Mental Health Matters Day on Friday, bringing together organizations from across the city that provide mental health and addiction services.
Organizations participating in the event included the Thunder Bay Police Service, Northwest Health Clinic, Thunder Bay Counselling Centre, Narcotics Anonymous, the Sexual Abuse Centre, Beendigen, and Open Minds church and wellness group.
Cassandra Nordal, the public relations and marketing coordinator with Kelly Mental Health, said Mental Health Matters is about raising community awareness around the services that are available in the city.
“Doing research in my current position we realized there was a huge disconnect for services in Thunder Bay,” she said. “So we began doing this on behalf of Kelly Mental Health and we are trying to connect the dots.”
Nordal was close friends with Dayna and she said she wanted to do something to help others facing similar struggles in a city that is in the midst of an ongoing opioid epidemic.
“We want to connect everyone, we want to network,” she said. “We don’t want anyone to walk into a counselling centre who needed help to be turned away. That’s what it comes down to. We are connecting ourselves and networking and hopefully we can help people today.”
The creation of the Dayna Karle Memorial Campaign was also announced on Friday, which was created to raise money in her memory that can be used to help others finance addiction and mental health services.
“No one should ever walk into a building and be turned away because they can’t afford it or due to a wait list,” Nordal said. “If someone needs help, we are here to help you. We are very excited and honoured to be doing this for the Karle family and in memory of Dayna.”
Karle said there are often very small windows of opportunity for someone struggling with addiction to seek help, so it’s important that services are available when they are needed most.
The opioid crisis has been worsening in the city, with numerous deaths reported this year due to overdoses and police warning of deadly street drugs circulating.
Karle said Dayna had tried to get into detox facilities but there are limited spaces available in the city. But there are other services that are available, and Karle said more people need to be aware of where to turn when facing mental health and addiction issues.
“Through my struggles as a parent of a loved one who struggled with addiction, many times we did not know what to do, where to reach out,” she said. “It’s very frustrating not knowing and long wait periods to get into places. So I really want to make a difference there. I want to make sure if someone is struggling they can make a call and be directed to where they need to be.”
“I think when you look back even a few years ago, talking about mental health was frowned upon,” Nordal added. “Now talking about mental health, we want to talk about it. I think it’s important because a lot of people don’t know resources available to them in Thunder Bay.”
For more information and to donate to the Dayna Karle Memorial Campaign, visit the Kelly Mental Health website.