Five New Faces of Mental Illness are Announced

Ottawa, ON, Thursday, July 2, 2015

In June 2015 the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) announced the five Canadians selected for the 13th annual Faces of Mental Illness campaign. Every year the Faces are highlighted during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness.

Over the next year, the Faces will take part in events to educate Canadians about the realities of living with mental illness, and the effects that mental health has in the lives of all Canadians. The stories of the Faces of Mental Illness will be featured on posters and postcards distributed to Canadians across the country. They will participate in a national media outreach campaign and are featured in a national public service announcement which can be viewed here.

The 2015 Faces of Mental Illness are:

Peter Neily - As a police officer in the RCMP, Peter is now publicly sharing his story to break down the barriers and prejudices about mental illness within law enforcement. Peter talks about his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder in the hopes that it will encourage other folks in uniform seek help when necessary.

Kendra Fisher - As a former member of Team Canada's National Hockey Program, and now mental health advocate, Kendra has realized that by sharing her story, she could help others. At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, severe panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and clinical depression. The positive support and feedback she received about opening up about her mental health issues has motivated her to continue working with mental health organizations and young people in hopes what she says can help them.

Wali Shah - A student and youth mentor for Nexus Youth Services from Mississauga, Ontario, Wali is dedicated in raising awareness about mental health. As he struggled with anxiety and depression, poetry and music have helped him in his recovery. Last year he was named one of Canada's Top 20 Under 20, and received Safe City Mississauga's Bell Youth Hero Award for his work as a speaker/musician using the arts to raise awareness about social issues and mental health.

Patricia Lemoine - As a communications and marketing manager, Patricia struggled with bulimia during her teenage years, up until her mid-twenties. Today, as part of her ongoing healing and recovery process, Patricia shares her personal experience with mental illness because she believes breaking silence is critical to promote dialogue and end stigma. In 2014, Patricia was invited to testify about her lived experience with an eating disorder at the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women (FEWO). She also volunteers on the Board of TRACOM a Montreal crisis center offering psychosocial intervention services for adults as well as their loved ones. Patricia believes there is no health without mental health.

Julie Tansey - Julie was diagnosed with agoraphobia and panic disorder at age 14. Although she has faced many obstacles in her life, Julie never gave up which is why she is proud to be a mental health activist. She is a member of several organizations, does volunteer work, and is a member of the Longueuil mental health consultative committee. Her goal is to be a leader in creating new ways to increase dialogue among people living with mental health issues and transform our society’s approach and views in regards to mental illness. She gives conferences to help spread awareness.

Canadians are encouraged to participate in Mental Illness Awareness Week from October 4th to 10th. This year’s theme is “Take Action Now”. Canadians are encouraged to share how they are taking action in eliminating the stigma around mental illness by tagging #TakeActionNow on social media.