It was about 30 years ago when Duncan first became aware of Pathways Clubhouse in Richmond.
Back then, it was the 17-year-old Richmond resident’s dad who was a member of the non-profit organization, which provides vital support for people dealing with mental health challenges.
Duncan’s dad suffered greatly with depression, spending time in hospital, before taking his own life in 2016.
Duncan, himself, called upon the help of Pathways in his 20s for what was also diagnosed, at the time, as depression.
“There’s a good chance it was (genetic),” Duncan, now 47, told the Richmond News this week when asked about his family’s health.
“After multiple diagnosis, the most recent is bi-polar disorder, which does have a hereditary component to it.
“Dad could have been under-diagnosed, I guess, who knows?”
Duncan said he struggled with his mental health challenges for about seven or eight years, he thinks, before discovering what Pathways could do for him.
Impact of Pathways almost instant
But when he did, he said the impact was almost instantaneous.
“It was very quick. I started going to the lunch program,” he recalled.
“The socializing, the interacting…being in an environment where mental health is less of an issue and not stigmatized, not something you have to keep a secret.”
Despite the support of Pathways, Duncan had a “manic episode” two years ago and was hospitalized as a result.
“When I got out later that year, I started attending more (at Pathways) and started volunteering in the kitchen,” he said.
“That was very beneficial in getting me out and about and rebuilding my confidence.”
Duncan added that it “certainly got me back to work,” first as a part-time lifeguard and now, today, as a full-time aquatic leader.
“I still go once or twice a week for lunch, as I work close by,” said Duncan.
Asked to look back at what the picture may have looked like, without the help of Pathways, Duncan simply said, “it would be a lot worse, that’s for certain.”
“(Pathways) has been a massive support network for me to lean on.
“It has been a place for me to go where I’m not judged and where I don’t judge myself — that last part is probably just as big a part as anything else.
“I likely wouldn’t be working. Now I’m able to recognize when I’m getting a little manic and able to talk it through with someone who understands.”