Patrick Vaillancourt is a 24-year-old Canadian Veteran and passionate mental health advocate. He leads what many of us would call an alternative lifestyle, choosing a van over a house, mobility over stability, and proximity to nature (and good walk trails for his very cute dog Rhea) over the bustle of the city, all in favour of a better sense of well-being and balance. We sat down with Patrick to talk about his work in advocating for mental health, his dog (of course), and the importance of sleep and nature to his sense of well-being.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement in raising Mental Health Awareness:
I use my platform to raise awareness about mental health because it gives me a sense of empowerment. When you’re in the military, you’re just a number and your voice doesn’t matter as much. I originally made very raw videos in the room I rented in downtown Toronto about my depression and anxiety and how I got through the day. I never expected my voice to be heard by hundreds of thousands of people.
2. Your dog, Rhea, seems to be a very important part of your life. Can you tell us a little bit about how you two met, and what role she plays for you?
I was originally in the queue for a service dog. The training was going to be one calendar year long, two times weekly at the same location. That wasn’t something that I could fully commit to given my need to explore and see new things. So, I found a breeder in Nanaimo, BC and I adopted Rhea, my beautiful malamute husky puppy. I got her because I felt my mental health was deteriorating, and I needed the companionship of a dog. So far, she has proven to be exactly what I needed!
3. Can you talk a little bit about the correlation between a good night’s sleep and mental health?
I’m a firm believer in self-care. I think we need to pay more attention to properly maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind. This includes diet, exercise, meditation, comfortable sleep, etc. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I don’t get a good night’s sleep I project my discomfort and it’s not fun for anyone involved.
4. Can you talk about the correlation between being in nature and mental health, or the importance nature plays in your life?
Since moving to BC, I have become more grounded with the earth (super hippy, I know). It feels really healthy to breathe the air in a forest, or having the mist of a water fall cover your body. I enjoy being out in nature either by myself or in small groups because, from trial and error, this is what I have found that works best for my mental health. It allows me to feel more connected with myself and the world.
If you are interested in this alternative lifestyle and are looking for a mattress for your RV, we invite you to watch Patrick's video in which he gives his opinion on the Polysleep mattress!
Thanks again to Patrick for telling us his story, we invite you to continue to follow his great adventures on Instagram!