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Run for Joy honors the memory of Katelyn Joy Beardsley. Katelyn was a vibrant young woman who brought immense joy to everyone who knew her with her love of laughter, mastery of sarcasm and one-liners, and fierce loyalty. She was unapologetically authentic and could sit with people in their deepest sadness or laugh with them in their highest joys. She had a strong love for God and people. She also loved running, which was her favorite way to combat her depression and anxiety. In the summer of 2018, Katelyn enrolled in the Nurse Anesthesia program at Wake Forest School of Medicine to fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a CRNA. Unfortunately, that dream was never realized. On June 11, 2020, Katelyn died by suicide.
We will never know all the things that led to this tragic end to such a beautiful life. Because Katelyn was high functioning and upbeat, no one saw this coming. We are heartbroken at her passing, and we all wish we had known she was struggling.
Mental health issues and suicide are fairly common among heath care trainees and providers. Training programs are usually very rigorous, caring for patients is stressful, and those who care for others often feel that they can’t or shouldn’t admit that they need care themselves. As we now know, this was especially true in the midst of the COVID pandemic. There is a stigma associated with mental illness, and trainees may feel that admitting that they struggle could damage their careers.
Run for Joy seeks to combat this stigma and support the mental wellness of heath care trainees. Proceeds from the race will support programming to increase awareness of mental health issues and promote mental wellness and advocacy. We are also building the Katelyn Beardsley Memorial Fund at Wake Forest School of Medicine, which will serve as an enduring source of funding for this purpose.
Issue: Mental health advocacy for health care trainees
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