With numb legs and sore feet, Paul Laberge collapsed at the finish line for Let’s Walk the Talk. Laberge walked for six days from Saskatoon to Lloydminster to raise awareness and sprout a conversation about mental health.

Laberge says he’s received a lot of support when he started the walk on August 26. He says people have come up to him during the walk to share their stories about dealing with mental health.

“We had so many talks that gave me chills and goosebumps. It’s exactly what I wanted just in general, not just for the walk but in life. You should be able to open up and it’s ok to admit when you’re mentally sick,” Laberge says.

Laberge compared the fourth day, walking by himself, to the feelings of someone dealing with a mental illness.

“Everyone that has dealt with mental health is fighting a battle that a lot of people don’t understand and it’s all different,” Laberge says. “Everyone’s mental health is different but it’s not something you compare it to, it’s something you share. You have to share it and the longer you keep it in, you’re going to bury yourself.”

Family, friends and supporters gathered around Paul Laberge after he completed his walk for mental health. (106.1 The Goat/Tre Lopushinsky)

Donations from Let’s Walk the Talk go towards the Lloydminster Health Foundation’s Project Sunrise. Health Foundation CEO Malcolm Radke says the project will bring more mental health stabilization beds to the Thorpe Recovery Centre and praised Laberge’s drive and message.

“Just to be able to tell that family that we’ll be able to put that money to use for the next family in need for any loved ones that are in crisis, it’s so important,” Radke says. “And just as important, Paul’s big thing was let’s talk about these things. Let’s make it open and here’s what we’re going through. We’re sick, not weak. It’s an illness it’s nothing to be afraid of and let’s get through this together.”

Donations from Let’s Walk the Talk go towards the Lloydminster Health Foundation’s Project Sunrise. Radke says the project will bring more mental health stabilization beds to the Thorpe Recovery Centre.

Laberge says he’s already prepared for the walk next year. He also wants to bring garbage bags with him and make cleaning up the ditches next to the highways a part of it next year.