Congratulations to the 2016 Champions of Mental Health

Ottawa (Ontario) , Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The 2016 Champions of Mental Health Awards were presented last night in Ottawa during Mental Health Week. The annual Champions Awards presented by Bell Let’s Talk celebrates individuals and organizations whose outstanding contributions have advanced the mental health agenda in Canada in the past year.

With special guests in attendance including Her Excellency Mrs. Sharon Johnston, CTV Correspondent and W5 Co-host Kevin Newman emceed the event and I Mother Earth’s Brian Byrne provided entertainment.

The winners of the 2016 Champions of Mental Health Awards are: Community (Individual): Curtis Bishop’s personal journey is truly one of hope. Curtis spent several years of his life on the streets of Toronto living with mental illness. He benefited from the support of a housing agency, Houselink Community Homes, where he found empowerment and took up the unofficial role of advocate for those who still struggle.

Community (Organization): The Centre d’expertise Marie-Vincent (CEMV) is a non-profit organization that provides services to sexually abused children, aged 12 and younger, as well as their families. By bringing together medical, police, psychosocial, social and legal services under one roof, the CEMV aims to optimize interventions with these children by minimizing the stress caused by these different services and facilitating coordination between the various groups of professionals.

Media: Erin Anderssen is a Senior Feature Writer at The Globe and Mail and has drawn attention to the lack of accessible mental health care in Canada. As lead author of The Globe’s Open Mind series on improving mental health research, diagnosis, and treatment, she exposed the urgency of improving Canada’s mental health care system in a very public way.

Research/Clinician: Dr. Heather Stuart is a Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, with cross appointments to the Department of Psychiatry and the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queens University. She has been fighting to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness since the late 1990s. She works to describe and understand the experience of stigma from the inside – from the perspective of people who have a mental illness and their families – with the goal of reducing the stigma and ensuring that those who experience a mental illness can get the help and support they need. In February 2012, Dr. Stuart became the first Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair.

Parliamentarian: The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North and Minister of Status of Women, served as Executive Director of the largest homeless shelter in Thunder Bay prior to entering politics. In her work, she focused on the social determinants of health and called on the federal government to better address issues around social housing, mental health, substance abuse and harm reduction. Workplace Mental Health: Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences is a teaching hospital specializing in providing a range of services for those struggling with complex or severe mental illness in a recovery oriented environment. The organization is passionate about supporting the mental and physical well-being of the employees who carry out this important work every day.

The Sharon Johnston Champion of Mental Health Award for Youth: The Bishop Ryan’s Celtic Circle Student Leadership Club is a group of students from grades 9 to 12 dedicated to bringing awareness to mental illness. For the past three years they have focused on reducing the stigma around mental illness and promoting the importance of an inclusive community. Through their own lived experience and passion to help others, students in the group have earned prestigious recognition and awards at the local, provincial and national level.

Pictured: Dr. Heather Stuart, Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair