Connectivity and the Road to Recovery: CAMIMH announces the Faces of Mental Illness for 2019-2020

Toronto, ON, Thursday, July 25, 2019

(TORONTO, ON) July 25, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) proudly announces the five Canadians who have been selected for the 17th annual Faces of Mental Illness campaign.

“The bravery of these five individuals is laudable. By sharing their experiences of struggle and perseverance, they are connecting mental health to the overall health conversation for all Canadians,” said Florence Budden, Co-Chair of CAMIMH.

The Faces campaign, presented by Bell Let’s Talk, will tell the stories of five Canadians who are living with mental illness, and underline the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment. Each year, CAMIMH receives hundreds of nominations filled with inspiring stories of resilience and recovery about individuals who want to raise awareness across Canada.

“The Faces are bringing mental health to the forefront to inspire policy-makers to recognize that mental illnesses, including addictions, deserve appropriate and timely treatment, adequate funding and dedicated research similar to any major health issue,” said Fardous Hosseiny, Co-Chair of CAMIMH.

This year’s theme of connectivity will highlight the importance of connecting to nature, family, friends, hobbies, mental health providers and of connecting mental health to overall health in order to maintain mental wellness.

“By sharing their own stories so openly, these outstanding Canadians are showing what’s possible when people living with mental illness are able to get timely access to the help they need,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “My thanks to each of the Faces of Mental Illness for their courage to make a real and positive difference.”

The 2019-2020 Faces of Mental Illness:

Jillian Brown (Squamish, BC) - Jillian is an adventure photographer who lives with PTSD. She dealt with numerous traumatic experiences, but through counselling, fitness, and nature she was able to heal and now shares her story to help others. Jillian has shifted her mindset from thinking of PTSD as a stigma, to using it as empowerment. Perseverance – Trust – Strength – Determination have now become the words of Jillian’s PTSD.

Anita Manley (Ottawa, ON) - At 43 years old, Anita lost contact with all of her friends and family and found herself living in her car. Anita struggled with schizo-affective bipolar disorder for many years and was hospitalized seven times beginning in her early 20's. Since receiving the right treatment in 2011, Anita has volunteered with the Women’s Resource Centre at The Royal and co-created a writing group to support other women. She is also a patient advisor for mental health issues and speaks to many audiences to help reduce the stigma surrounding psychosis.

Donovan Taplin (Bell Island, NL)- Raised in a rural island community, Donovan struggled with depression and anxiety since they were a teenager and had limited access to mental health care. The most crucial element to Donovan's successes in recovery has been finding a sense of belonging as a queer person. In 2013, Donovan became the youngest, and one of the first openly queer people to hold municipal office in the province and lead their Town’s first recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week and Pride Month. Donovan also served on the Prime Minister’s Youth Council and is currently Vice-Chair of the committee developing Canada’s national standard for post-secondary student mental health, the first of its kind in the world.

Onika Dainty (Toronto, ON) - Onika has spent a total of one year of her life in psychiatric institutions due to psychotic episodes brought on by Bipolar Affective Disorder 1. Growing up in a household that did not discuss mental health, it took Onika years to seek out the right treatment. Today, she hosts a podcast, DaintyDysh that discusses mental health issues and aims to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Mélissa Néron (Jonquière, QC) - Since childhood, Mélissa knew she was different. Her emotions were very overwhelming and to the extreme. As she grew older she made several suicide attempts and it was not until she was in her mid-20s that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with exacerbation and ADD. She is currently studying to become a nurse and wants to show others that even with a mental illness, anything is possible. The Faces will be featured in a national media outreach and advocacy campaign, which will include videos that will be shared with the public during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), October 6 to 12, 2019. MIAW encourages action and engages Canadians in a public conversation about mental illness.

CAMIMH would like to thank its generous sponsors who make this campaign possible: Bell Let’s Talk, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Lundbeck Canada Inc., Innovative Medicines Canada, Canadian Credit Union Association, and Impact Public Affairs.

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Established in 1998, the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) is an alliance of mental health organizations comprised of health care providers and organizations representing persons with mental illness and their families and caregivers. CAMIMH’s mandate is to ensure that mental health is placed on the national agenda so that persons with a lived experience of mental illness and their families receive appropriate access to care and support.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Kayode Southwood
Cell: 613-606-1336
Email: kayode@impactcanada.com

Rita Rahmati
Cell: 647-289-9774
Email: rita@impactcanada.com