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Aidan Girduckis

Aidan “Ducky” Girduckis

Founder, Ducky Brand

Many Canadians with mental illness struggle without proper treatment because they can’t afford it. Here’s how Ducky Brand is helping.

Mental illness affects Canadians of all ages, cultures, and education and income levels. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), in any one year one in five people will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the population, causing mild to severe impairment, while approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression in their lifetime. Mental illness is especially prevalent among our youth. With certain types of treatment not covered by public health insurance plans, many Canadians with mental illness struggle without proper care or treatment, simply because they can’t afford it.

That’s where Ducky Brand Apparel comes in. Founded by Aidan “Ducky” Girduckis after conquering his own bout with anxiety and depression, the clothing retailer is on a mission to help people with mental illness get the treatment and care they need. 

Success and happiness don’t always go together

A talented hockey player, good student, and son of two loving parents, Girduckis had everything going for him. “I was told my whole life that the idea of success and happiness was to be a good student, be well-behaved, get good grades, earn some money through having a job, and always make the safest, smartest choices possible,” says Girduckis. Though successful on all these counts, Girduckis couldn’t find satisfaction. “In the fall of 2016, I achieved the biggest personal goal I had set for myself, playing hockey at the collegiate level, but I still wasn’t happy,” he says. 

A trial of several different anti-depressant medications and numerous psychologist visits over the next year and a half brought little relief. By the spring of 2018, while set to start playing college hockey, Girduckis started feeling worse. “Knowing I had to go to school in the fall just added to my anxiety and stress,” he says. 

Learning about causes of depression and how to manage them are key to recovery

That’s when he began seeing a sports psychologist, who treated him with an approach called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Through the process, Girduckis learned about the causes of his depression and how to manage them. “That, along with the combination of the right antidepressant medications for me individually, greatly increased my overall happiness and well-being in life,” he says. Today, Girduckis is depression-free and enjoys every day to the fullest. 

Reflecting on his journey, Girduckis was struck by the thousands of dollars of accumulated costs over the two years he sought help. This brought him to another realization: many people don’t have the financial resources they need to overcome mental illness, so they don’t get the help they need.

With certain types of treatment not covered by public health insurance plans, many Canadians with mental illness struggle without proper care or treatment, simply because they can’t afford it.

Ducky Brand: A symbol of the fight against mental illness

In 2018, Girduckis developed the concept of Ducky Brand, using it as a tool and symbol in the fight against mental illness. “It’s meant to show that if I was able to do it, then so can anyone else who may be suffering, and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Girduckis.

Since then, Ducky Brand has gained several brand ambassadors from the hockey world, including two-time Stanley Cup champions Daniel Carcillo and Andrew Shaw. “After one conversation with him, and myself being a mental health advocate, I could sense that he was in it for the right reasons,” says Carcillo. Adds Shaw: “I’ve known a lot of people who have dealt with mental health issues, and I thought bringing awareness to it would be a good idea, and a way to give back.”

Ducky Brand donates 30% of profits from sales of all Ducky Brand Apparel products to mental health initiatives, to help people without the financial means get proper treatment.

Like Carcillo and Shaw, you can be a champion for mental health by purchasing Ducky Brand Apparel products.   

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