A push-up challenge is taking place across Canada this month for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and Weyburn's Barclay Charlton is doing 2,000 push-ups in 23 days in support of the Weyburn branch.
As the physical challenge can represent the daily struggle many face with regard to their mental health, Charlton said it can make a world of difference for some to know about the supports in place.
"I lost my best friend to suicide 15 years ago, and that was sort of what inspired me to do this," he shared. "You never really know what people are going through, and you always wonder, and you just want to make sure that people know that there's an outlet for them, whether it's a friend or a family member, or the the Mental Health Association or just anybody. I mean, if me doing two thousand push-ups in 23 days can help one person realize that someone out there cares enough to listen to their story and can help them, that's kind of why I'm here."
He said he struggled with the loss of his friend, Perry Folk, "when it first happened, because you always wonder, 'was there something I could have seen or could have done?' It's a tough thing to go through because you always wonder what if, but I don't know that there ever was a signal or anything I could have done different."
Charlton said it is a real challenge for men to bust past the stigma of reaching out for these supports.
"You have good friends and you have chats, and you talk about this and that, and, 'how are you?' and everything's always good," he noted. "Maybe you have a wife and you have children, or you have a job or you have all of those responsibilities, so I think there is a bit of a stigma that you have to be okay, and I think it's maybe harder for men to reach out."
"I just want to make sure that people out there know that it's okay not to be okay."
"There are resources and places that they can reach out to and remain anonymous and be able to be a little bit vulnerable and and not be worried about being proud and not wanting to reach out to someone that's in your circle or someone that you might not want to see you the way you are," he continued. "It doesn't matter who you are, if it's someone out there that is a complete stranger, reach out to somebody, reach out to me, reach out to anybody. I mean, it's just something that you need to do, to make sure that your mental health is well."
He added that what works for one person may not work for the next person. "It's not a 'one-cure-fits-all' type thing. It's unique to each individual as well."
The push-up challenge involves an app telling the participant how many pushups to do each day, with Sundays off.
"We just got started, so I'm only a couple hundred into the two thousand," he shared. "I set a pretty modest goal for donations, that I've already surpassed, and I've had an awesome response from friends and family. Even Perry's mother sent me a donation, which was really, really nice to see. So I'll continue to raise money, and I'll do the push-ups regardless."
While Charlton does go to the gym five days a week, and his arms are not sore yet, he said he will likely be feeling them as the daily number increases throughout February.
The challenge also takes into consideration that not everyone has an easy time with pushups. If they've been injured or have bad wrists, for example, squats would be an example of alternative exercises. Groups can also share the push-ups
"It's definitely a physical challenge for me and it's raising money for a good cause," he explained. "Through the app, knowing that people have donated money to me and to the Canadian Mental Health Association makes me a little more accountable, and makes me want to ensure that I complete it."
"I set a modest goal of about $500 and I'm at $535 or something already. Thank you to all my friends and family who have been supportive since I decided to do this, which wasn't that long ago and I'll get to 2,000 push-ups done and we'll raise some money for mental health and hopefully everybody's better for it."
A number of other members of the Weyburn community are also doing this challenge. They're also listed HERE on Charlton's fundraising page, where you can make a donation or share the link to spread the word.