Cornerstone Counselling Centre in Edmonton marked World Mental Health Day with an event Saturday in order to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Sheila Stauffer with the Centre said they’ve experienced a 12 per cent increase in clientele over the summer alone.

“Economic stress is one thing. There is a lot of people who have either lost their job or are afraid of losing their job,” she explained.

“[People] can’t find help. They need counselling support. They don’t know where to find it or they can’t afford it, if they can find it,” Stauffer said.

According to Cara Taylor, 23, who battles severe depression, it took her four years to come to terms with her condition.

“I was suicidal and delusional and I was afraid that I would take my life,” Taylor explained as she spoke to a group of supporters at the Edmonton Expo Centre at Northlands.

Brad Kitiuk with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said they are in the process of appointing a mental health team to teach its members about depression.

“We’re losing too many people to this illness and they hadn’t been perhaps getting the support they needed,” he said.

Organizers of Saturday’s event also unveiled a 40-foot mural of 'hope', made up of over 1,000 individual pieces - symbolizing "the collaborations of hundreds of people working to make a difference in the way mental health problems are understood and treated."

With files from Kim Smith