This year I am kicking off the New Year with my final issue of urbanicity magazine. Although the decision to move onto the next chapter of my life was made a few months ago, there was no doubt in my mind that my last issue absolutely had to be the Mental Health Issue.

When I themed last January’s issue as the Mental Health Issue I wanted it to resonate with people. I wanted to share the stories people were too afraid to talk about. I wanted to break down walls and talk more in-depth about depression, anxiety, what it means to be Bipolar, OCD, and more. I didn’t want to gloss over these topics with an inspirational quote, I wanted to dive into the realities of what it’s like to live with mental health issues; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The response was overwhelming and left me in a state of happy tears over the next few days as I received e-mails and phone calls from people thanking the team for creating this issue or just looking to share their story because they felt comfortable enough to do so.  

This year, we are striving to continue to break the stigma, to keep the conversation going and to focus on the realities of those living with a mental illness. I especially wanted to focus on men after noticing the overwhelming response from women who were ready to open up and share their stories while men were obviously still suffering but less inclined to share. 

Men are often silenced, afraid to speak up, and confined by gender stereotypes that leave them unable to express their mental health battles in the name of remaining rough, tough and emotionless. Learn about some of the realities men face in the eyes of mental health, or read a new mother’s promise to normalize male mental health struggles in her home so that she can raise a son who feels comfortable enough to discuss any mental health issues his future may hold.

If my role as Editor of urbanicity leaves Hamilton with just one memory, let it be the mental health issues. Let it be that no matter the battle you are facing inside your mind, you are so much more than a diagnosis. Your mental health journey adds colour to your story, helps to shape the person you are, but never fully defines you.

With this being my final issues, I want to extend a huge thank you to the community of Hamilton for the overwhelming amount of love, support, and stories over the past 2 years. Hamilton welcomed me with open arms and pushed me to succeed. You are a city of movers, shakers, and doers and I hope my run as editor of urbanicity has reflected that and the beauty of the people in this city. Thank you for spending time with urbanicity each month and for continually supporting this magazine and each other.

I would also like to extend a thank you to Joe Accardi of Forge and Foster who provided me with the opportunity to run urbanicity from top to bottom and allowed me to let my creative abilities shine. You designed a workplace that inspired its employees to think creatively, push boundaries, share stories and made getting up for work each day exciting and refreshing.  

Finally, I would like to say thank you to the real MVP of urbanicity. Our graphic designer, Tafari Anthony who has been with urbanicity since before me and will remain onboard after me. Not only did he bring every issue to life with pops of colour and creativity but he consistently exceeds his role by offering guidance and support to the team. Tafari, we thank you for your hard work, incredible talent, and your infectious laughter that made the workplace even more enjoyable.

urbanicity would like to wish the new Editor the best as he is set to continue to grow, expand, and share the stories of Hamilton. He has big plans in motion, so sit tight Hamilton, urbanicity isn’t going anywhere!

Andrea Fernandes

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#urbanicitymentalhealth.