About the Mental Health Gala:

The Mental Health Gala is a fundraising effort to raise money for two very important organizations in our community, Do It For Daron (DIFD) and The Royal Ottawa.

DIFD was founded in 2011 by friends and family of Daron Richardson, who died by suicide at the age of 14. With this initiative came a movement to encourage conversations and spread awareness about youth mental health.

The Royal is a specialized mental health centre which treats people with complex and serious mental illnesses across Eastern Ontario. It focuses on 14 areas of care including, but not limited to: anxiety, mood disorders, operational stress injuries & PTSD, recovery programs, schizophrenia, seniors, youth, women’s mental health, etc.

Together we can make a difference in our community and help end the stigma around mental health in Canada!

About the Organizer:

With a passion for philanthropy, Amy Caruso began The Mental Health Gala as a way of coping with her own personal struggles. Seeing friends and family around her dealing with all forms of mental illness pushed her to take this step in making a difference in the community.
In three short years, The Mental Health Gala has grown from a small friends and family event, to over 350 people at the latest gala in May 2019. This special awareness campaign has been surpassing expectations, and to date, has raised an overall total of $108,500.

Amy has been recognized by The Royal as a community leader, has attended their Inspiration Awards and their Leaders in Mental Health Breakfast, and has had the honour of meeting the Richardson’s (Daron’s parents) on many occasions. In 2019, Amy received multiple awards within the city for her charitable work, and was announced one of 40 key persons who have made a tremendous impact through leadership with the Royal Ottawa Foundation, helping to transform the landscape of mental health in our community.

Although there are hundreds of mental illnesses out there, here are some of the most common:
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder)
  • Mood disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychosis
  • Schitzophrenia
Do It For Daron (DIFD) encourages young people to talk openly about mental illness and to ask for help when needed. DIFD provides young people, their parents, teachers, coaches and other adult role models with the resources, outlets and, most importantly, courage to overcome the shame and fear of discussing mental illness. The purple DIFD heart, a creation inspired by Daron’s favourite colour, has become the youth-driven symbol of this movement. It is a visual reminder that only love and awareness, not hiding in the shadows, can combat youth mental illness.
The Royal.
The Royal is one of Canada’s foremost mental health care and academic health science centres. Our mandate is simple: to get more people living with mental illness into recovery faster. The Royal combines the delivery of specialized mental health care, advocacy, research and education to transform the lives of people with complex and treatment resistant mental illness. The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health raises funds that support The Royal’s work while placing a sharp focus on awareness building through the You Know Who I Am campaign.