Inspiring the next generation of women’s mental health allies

How you and your ‘families’ can support women’s mental health in Ottawa
Tara
Tara-Lynn Hughes, senior vice-president of retail banking at TD.
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by the Royal Ottawa Foundation

For Tara-Lynn Hughes, senior vice-president of retail banking at TD, the annual Run for Women is a family affair. In the several years she has served as a participant and co-captain of “Team TD,” she has brought her daughter, Alexa, along with her. Rain or shine, in-person or virtually, the two have been active participants in the run to support women’s mental health programs at The Royal since their move to Ottawa five years ago.

But the 2022 LOVE YOU by Shoppers Drug Mart™ Run for Women isn’t just about spending time with her “home family.” For Hughes, it’s also about spending time with her “TD family,” and fostering the camaraderie that comes with a group of colleagues taking the time to support a cause that affects their community, as a community.

“What continues to strike me every year at the run are the people — those who come with signs or a t-shirt, sharing who they’re running in support of,” she said. “Clearly, there's such a personal story behind so many people's participation. I think that's so powerful and so moving."

Hughes’ own story is connected to the years she has spent as a female leader at the Bank, especially amid the pandemic. Women have often faced the brunt of COVID-19 fallout with respect to their work and home families, highlighting the importance of The Royal’s approach to women-centric mental health programming. This approach features a strong focus on serving women in the capital region with diverse needs who are under-recognized, under-served or have specialized mental health needs for which traditional (and often male-centric) mental health services just don’t work. 

“Seven out of 10 Canadian women said they are experiencing more anxiety, depression, fatigue and isolation due in large part to the increase in unpaid care work that they've taken on during the pandemic, from helping their offices through lockdowns, to helping their kids with virtual schooling,” she said. 

“All of that has shown us just how fragile our social infrastructure is and how important and  meaningful a sense of belonging, connection and proper support is to women’s mental health.”

This year’s hybrid LOVE YOU by Shoppers Drug Mart™ Run for Women is slated to raise more than $500,000 with the help of over 6,000 participants. According to Hughes, the run is looking to Ottawa’s business community to play a big role in helping meet this year’s goals. Employers and employees interested in taking part can begin by volunteering as team captains and encouraging their colleagues to join as team members — a task Hughes has taken on herself over the past few years, inspiring dozens of colleagues to join Team TD, with the added bonus of TD covering the cost of registration for all colleagues who chose to lace up for this year’s run.

“To the business leaders out there in the Ottawa area, I’ll say this: the Run for Women is a fabulous opportunity for your team to bond,” she added. “It's always so great to see my colleagues from work participate, but even better when they come with their partners or their children — it truly allows you to bring out your bigger family and show your support for the women in your community.”

Yet for Hughes, one of the run’s most rewarding aspects is seeing its spirit passed on to the women around her, from younger colleagues at TD, to her own daughter, who at 17 years old has started recruiting her own group of teammates from amongst her friends. 

“This is the next generation of young women getting involved — a generation of women who are really focused on women’s mental health and who want to do their part to make sure that women in Ottawa receive the best possible care that they can,” she said. 

“It’s absolutely inspiring.”

Join the run today - and save!

This year’s LOVE YOU by Shoppers Drug Mart™ Run for Women will take place both in-person and online. The in-person portion of the event will take place June 5 at LeBreton Flats Park. Be part of this special event by registering your team here.

Sign up today and receive $5 off your registration by using the code OBJ!