Game changer

The Winnipeg Foundation

Rallying around the critical cause of supporting mental health.

Kieran Moolchan with wife Alex Rohne.
Kieran Moolchan with wife Alex Rohne. Photo courtesy of Kieran Moolchan.

Kieran Moolchan has a good life. He’s happily married to the woman of his dreams, he has a good job and great friends. But a mere six years ago, he wrote a suicide note, left it on his kitchen table, and walked to a nearby bridge.

Kieran’s good life didn’t come easy and it didn’t happen right away. Struggles with depression and mental health, including a bipolar II diagnosis in 2014, mean he has to work hard to establish routines and develop discipline. He has also found a positive outlet through his love of video games.

When he first started feeling ‘off’ after his dad passed away in 2012, Mr. Moolchan didn’t know what was wrong. One semester he’d get straight As and feel great, and the next he’d be flunking out with no sense of motivation or purpose.

“I went from just feeling sad to not being able to sleep,” Mr. Moolchan says. “Things started to get a lot worse for my moods, and for what I was thinking and how I was feeling.”

Mr. Moolchan retreated to the world of online video games.

“When I was at my lowest, [video games were] the best way for me to communicate with my friends, to still interact with them when I didn’t want to leave my bedroom,” Mr. Moolchan says. “For me, they were a lifeline. I wasn’t alone. I could talk with my friends and we could play something together, we could do it as a team and I could have that comradery.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Bipolar II is a mental illness where a person’s mood cycles between highs (mania) and lows (depression). And although Kieran was placed on anti-depressive medication, his bipolar II was undiagnosed at the time. The medication ended up intensifying the highs and lows, which led to suicidal ideation and an even worse depression.

“I wrote a note, left it on the kitchen table, made my bed and packed up my clothes,” he says.

At 5 a.m. on June 27, 2013, Kieran walked to a nearby bridge with the intent to end his life. Thankfully, when at the bridge, he paused and called a friend for the help he needed.

After seeing his doctor again and eventually getting the proper diagnosis, Mr. Moolchan could finally start addressing his mental health issues properly.

People are very willing to talk about how they’re feeling or share what they’ve gone through, if they’re prompted just a little bit.

Kieran Moolchan
Winnipeg Foundation donor

One of the most important aspects of recovery is being able to talk about what is going on, to share your experiences, and to know you are not alone. To aid in this, Mr. Moolchan co-founded A Critical Cause: Gamers for Mental Health with a group of friends he met while attending Red River College.

They host an annual 24-hour gaming marathon to discuss mental health issues and coping mechanisms, while also raising money for their fund at The Winnipeg Foundation.

“As a community of gamers, we talk about games and we play games together. We have a lot of fun, but we don’t often talk about what happens afterwards, once the game is done being played, [about how] we are feeling,” says Mr. Moolchan. “We started A Critical Cause and we started streaming video games for charity, and it was really cool.”

During the marathon, guests share stories, struggles, and coping mechanisms about mental health while playing games.

“It feels like a good thing to do; to actually start some conversations,” Mr. Moolchan says. “A lot of the time people are very willing to talk about how they’re feeling or share what they’ve gone through, if they’re prompted just a little bit.”

For more information about A Critical Cause, go to CriticalCause.org

You can watch a video of Kieran’s story at YouTube.com/WinnipegFoundation


“Because access to mental health support should be available to everyone.”

A Critical Cause Giving Circle

Fund: A Critical Cause Fund
Cause: Health, Wellness and Recreation
Supports: Mental health initiatives in Winnipeg

To learn more about Causes, visit Find your BeCause


This story is featured in the Spring 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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