I had the good fortune of attending the “Mental Illness: Stories of Courage and Self-Discovery” lunch and learn on May 21st hosted by the Belleville General Hospital Foundation and sponsored by the Bell Let’s Talk Program. I’m sure many of you have been following Clara’s Big Ride, another of Bell’s anti-stigma campaigns, which will conclude in Ottawa on July 1st.
Carolyn and Robert, both patients of QHC psychiatrist Dr. Colin MacPherson, shared their stories about what it feels like to live with a mental illness and their experiences moving through the mental health service system. These videos will be posted to YouTube shortly.
The aha moment for me was when Dr. MacPherson told us that what Carolyn and Robert have experienced as a result of their mental illnesses has been more difficult than anything he has ever done, including his demanding years as a medical student.
Dr. MacPherson also stated that “mental health is a community achievement” and that hospital and community service providers need to continue working together to provide the best possible care for those struggling to build resiliency and improve their mental health. This was echoed from the audience by Tim Pomfret from Mental Health Services who confirmed that his agency and QHC have maintained a collaborative working relationship over the years in serving individuals 16+ with mental health issues and will continue to do so.
The best was saved for last when Carolyn and Robert were invited up to the front to receive framed certificates of acknowledgement and appreciation for speaking out about their personal experiences living with mental illness. I admire their bravery!
For more details, please see Intel’s Emily Mountney’s article entitled, Taking Away the Stigma.