Jean-Pierre’s son, Philippe, was a university student when he showed the first signs of schizophrenia. This engaged and brilliant young man, who used to succeed at everything he did, began to isolate himself. The ray of sunshine that Philippe brought to his family slowly began to fade. His parents believed that the youngest of their three children was going through a delayed teenage crisis. Months went by, and his lifestyle started to change. Philippe would sleep during the day and stay up at night. He began to ramble and became increasingly paranoid. He was convinced someone was spying on him, following him around, and sending messages. Jean-Pierre and his wife eventually acknowledged that Philippe’s problem was real, but Philippe was unable to accept it. His parents refused to idly stand by, so they put together an extensive report on their son and brought it to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist acknowledged that Philippe seemed to have a mental health issue, but he would have to examine him in order to start treatment. Jean-Pierre tried and failed to convince Philippe to seek treatment. His condition was getting worse; something had to be done. In an act of unconditional love, they sought an order requiring their son to undergo a psychiatric assessment. The police came to take Philippe away so he could get the help he needed. Jean-Pierre and his wife knew it was the right thing to do, but they couldn’t help feeling as if they had betrayed their youngest. What they didn’t know then was that they would have to go through this process four times before Philippe would turn his life around. The road that Philippe has taken since university is a departure from his original trajectory, but despite everything, he is now in control of his life. Jean-Pierre credits his son for helping him become a better person.
Over the past 25 years, Jean-Pierre has been fully committed to supporting the mental health campaign. His love for Philippe has inspired him to set out on this long journey to dispel preconceived notions of the disease, as well as prejudices. As a former Sûreté du Québec police officer, he has shared his personal experience with other members of the force to remind them that behind every mental health issue is a human being who deserves respect. As a gesture of solidarity with the friends and family who support those with a mental illness, Jean-Pierre has also led initiatives to help make sure they can stay on track. Thanks to him, a 24-hour telephone support line, provided by La Boussole, has been set up. Now, after so many years of involvement, Jean-Pierre is taking a step back so that others can make their voices heard and help advance the cause. His ultimate goal is to humanize the psychiatric assessment order process so that families can help their children without feeling such utter helplessness, pain and guilt.