Rick Lundy has been involved in a variety of non-profit community work throughout his life.

However, after his wife experienced a tragedy that almost took her life he was inspired to take on a more specific focus, improving accessibility to government health care systems for Calgarians through his organization Minds Over Matter.

It started in 2007, when Lundy’s wife was pregnant and in the middle of a miscarriage in the crowded emergency room of a Calgary hospital.

“We knew going into the hospital that it would be quite a wait, obviously. But as the night went on she started to deteriorate, and as she deteriorated, I kept trying to get help for her over a five-hour span and I couldn’t.”

This inspired Lundy to create Open Arms, a non-profit organization that supports patients going through difficult medical events.

Patients receive help navigating the healthcare system, whether that be by ensuring that they can file a complaint or obtain documentation related to their treatment.

“It’s very rewarding because when people go through an adverse medical event, it’s very tough to get answers – especially if you don’t know the system is a very big, very bureaucratic system,” says Lundy.

“In Canada, we know that 6.2 million Canadians suffer from mental illness. 1.2 million of those are children.” – Rick Lundy

Providing accessibility to healthcare resources, especially those required for mental health, is challenging. David Swann, MLA for Calgary-Mountain View, says this is due to problems with coordination.

“Within government, there is a need to coordinate health services with the social services system, with the police and justice system and the housing system,” he explains.

“And those four big ministries are still not necessarily working in a coordinated and collaborative fashion to provide those wrap-around services, that many people with mental health and addictions need.”

This was a problem Lundy noticed as well, working with a lot of different cases in Open Arms. Lundy quickly realized that mental health was becoming the organization’s primary  focus.

“In Canada, we know that 6.2 million Canadians suffer from mental illness. 1.2 million of those are children.”

As a result, Lundy founded another non-profit organization in 2014 called Minds Over Matter. The organization focuses on increasing accessibility to resources required to help those struggling with mental health.

Rick LundyRick Lundy sitting in the Triwood Community Centre, after leading a successful mental health support group.                        Photo courtesy Jerri Elgert.

“Our goal is to keep people out of hospitals. That’s our goal. And mental illness, unfortunately, some have put it in a box. And you can’t do that because different things help different people, but it doesn’t help everybody. And we have to really understand that.”

Future goals for Minds Over Matter include opening a homeless shelter and creating support groups across the city. Lundy notes that the support groups thus far have been very successful, but lack convenient placement for Calgarians.

“The problem is we’ve had a lot of people deep in the south that have said, ‘you know what, I don’t drive or it’s too far.’ So we want to make sure that people don’t have to travel across the city to be able to do that.”

Board member David Shaw hopes to see Minds Over Matter expand to be active all over Calgary, seeing its potential as a big contributor to mental health advocacy.

Shaw first came to Minds Over Matter through its support groups. Prior to starting the groups, Shaw had quit drinking after struggling with the vice from the time he was eight to 48 years old. The support groups presented an opportunity for Shaw to find his place in the world after getting clean, as well as learn the meaning of support.

“I had never experienced anything like this before. Now, I see what Minds Over Matter is bringing to Calgary and Alberta is just so incredible – buddy system, and togetherness, and friendship and family.”

The lack of accessibility to mental health resources is not an issue that can be solved by just one organization, Swann notes. Coordination between government and non-government organizations is crucial if we want to properly manage these resources.

Part of this coordination, he explains, needs to involve non-government organizations confronting the system.

“We need those kind of services that are willing to speak to the government, and challenge its lack of reaching out and helping coordinate all these disparate services.”

Lundy says that his work in healthcare has helped him face his wife’s tragedy and inspired him to continue to give back to the community.

“I didn’t know why that happened to my wife. It’s a very tough thing. But now I do know. It’s to help people. So my role whether it be now or in five or 10 years will be to continue to help people.”


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Editor: Mahroh Afzal | mmohammadafzal@cjournal.ca 

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