'Living with mental illness is not a choice': How Jessica Mulroney is raising mental health awareness for homeless women

Jessica Mulroney. Image via Instagram.

Jessica Mulroney is helping to raise mental health awareness one shoebox at a time.

The Canadian brand strategist and “Good Morning America” contributor is speaking out about the impact of mental illness with help from author Matt Haig.

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In a new post to Instagram, Mulroney shared a quote from the mental health advocate about the complexities of living with anxiety and panic attacks. Haig, who lives with depression wrote, “Panic attacks are a nightmare. The terrors, I used to call them. Impossible to explain to people how very debilitating they are. But know this: they aren’t eternal. You can change your responses over time to stop the meta-panic, the panic ABOUT the panic. Acceptance is resistance.”

Having previously revealed her own struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, Mulroney shared the quote with her followers.

“The reality of panic attacks can slowly change. Panic breeds manic. Mind over matter and never be ashamed,” she captioned the photo. “Thank you Matt Haig. So many suffer yet we still live in a world where this is not shared enough.”

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The mother of three co-founded The Shoebox Project with her sisters-in-law to help provide necessities to women affected by homelessness, many of whom also suffer from mental health issues.

“Living with mental illness is not a choice and can lead to debilitating circumstances,” she continued. “Please follow our charity to understand the struggles some of these women face everyday.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, people with mental illnesses are more likely to remain homeless for longer periods of time and have less contact with family and friends. Rates of suicidal attempts and behaviours, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression as well as substance abuse disorders (dual disorders) are more prevalent in homeless Canadians compared to the rest of the population. Studies have shown that homelessness can worsen the severity of mental health issues and create added barriers to finding and maintaining employment.

Since 2011, the Shoebox Project has distributed approximately 180,000 shoeboxes filled with personal care items, valued at $9 million, across North America. This Fall, the project will be launching its first chapter in the United Kingdom.

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Mulroney first revealed her struggle with anxiety in March, admitting that there are days where she can “barely get out of bed.”

“Sometimes the simplest tasks are so incredibly challenging but everyday I try and I make choices to push myself further than I could ever imagine,” Mulroney shared. “There is no shame in it and talking about [it] should become the norm. I hope and encourage you to share your stories. #nolifeisperfect.”

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