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Spotlight on reporter Lasia Kretzel and the inspiration behind her mental health fundraiser

Lasia Kretzel

Lasia Kretzel has been a Rogers reporter for News 1130 in Vancouver B.C. for the past two and a half years. She recently used her platform to fundraise on behalf of Coast Mental Health, a Vancouver-based organization empowering people struggling with mental illnesses. To raise awareness of her charity campaign, Lasia shaved her head on Vancouver’s Breakfast Television. Today, she shares with us the story behind her dedication to campaigning for mental health.

You’ve been growing your hair for the past 8 years, what motivated you to go through with cutting it for fundraising?

I started growing my hair because I was curious to see how long it could grow. Before I was born, my mother had long, blonde hair past her knees, and I was curious to see if I could do the same. She passed away five years ago (as of Oct. 4) after a long battle with chronic alcoholism. I kept growing my hair, half because I was still curious, and now half in her memory. I always knew I would cut the hair and donate it, but it wasn’t until my mother’s passing that I decided I wanted to use it as a chance to raise money and awareness for issues that have  now become so near to me; mental health and addictions.

You raised $5,175 so far for Coast Mental Health, why is this organization special to you?

We surpassed the initial goal of $1,000 within the first two hours of the fundraiser, which is amazing. I knew of Coast Mental Health because of NEWS 1130’s involvement with their Courage to Come Back Awards. I greatly admire the work that Coast Mental Health is doing for those seeking help with mental health and addictions. Given my personal connection to the issue, I felt it was a good fit. It’s not easy for anyone to escape addiction or find solutions to mental illness and organizations such as CMH can mean all the difference.

All of November is Give Together Month where Rogers matches all employee donations to the charity of their choice. Do you think this initiative can make a difference in our communities?

While Coast Mental Health operates locally in the Lower Mainland, mental health and addictions can and do impact Canadians across the country. Whether it’s financially supporting those who need help with mental health and addictions or just generating an open discussion to combat stigma and isolation, I think an initiative like Give Together can definitely make a difference in every community.

What would you like people to take away from your story?

You are not alone. Whether you are seeking help for your own mental health and addictions, or impacted by the struggles of a loved one, you are not alone, and there are people who care and want to help. It took me a long time to be open about what happened to my mother and my family, but once I began to talk, I found a world of support from not only professionals, but those who had lived experiences similar to mine. That community can go a long way to helping you along the road, and breaking down the stereotypes of those directly and indirectly impacted by mental illness and addictions. It doesn’t take millions of dollars to start talking about mental health and addictions. All it takes is the courage to speak up.