The Mental Illness Awareness Week blog, sharing stories of recovery, personal experiences, and mental health/mental illness news.


New Faces of MIAW 2010: Marie Asuncion

Meet Marie, one of the Faces of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Marie is a musician and English as a second language teacher from Toronto, Ontario.

Read Marie's story


Iron ring for ‘the girl with the cool dog’

Staring at the iron ring on her pinkie finger, Jennifer Francis sees much more than a piece of metal – it symbolizes a journey of struggle and triumph.

Francis will be walking across the stage in Alumni Hall on Wednesday, June 16 for her convocation from the Civil Engineering program. She will be accompanied by her companion and service dog, Spirit, who has a similar twinkling ‘iron paw’ on her collar.

Getting the ring has been challenging for Francis, who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type II, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Panic Disorder. Her symptoms manifested during first year of university.

“The odds were stacked against me, but it just proves that when you put your mind to something, you can do it. I’ve learned how strong I am because of that,” she says.

“Even though it took me six years to get through this program, I really don’t care. I still did it. I still wrote the same tests as everyone. I am still as well prepared for the workforce as everyone else; I just have to learn to live differently.”

Read full article

New Faces of MIAW 2010: David Albert Newman

Meet David, one of the Faces of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

David Albert Newman is an internal auditor from Winnipeg, Manitoba

Read David's story


IIMHL Conference in Killarney, Ireland

Last month, three of our 2009 Faces of Mental Illness had the exciting opportunity to visit Killarney, Ireland to participate in the 2010 International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership’s (IIMHL) annual Exchange and Network meeting.

This exciting event brought together leaders and consumers from around the world to discuss steps to recovery from mental illness and promote strategies for mental health.

Arlene Mayes, Brian Nootchtai and Raija Begall attended this conference.

Arlene has shared her thoughts on this wonderful experience:

I recently got to travel Ireland for the 2010 IIMHL Conference. It took place in Killarney Ireland. What a wonderful experience! The Conference was amazing from start to finish. There were so many people from around the world and we were all gathered there for a common reason, to bring about a better way for the future of mental health and wellness. The theme of the Conference was: "Citizens in Partnership, Inclusion or Illusion"

Many wonderful speakers, many wonderful workshops. A quote was said by one of the speakers that really touched my heart "every duck gets the chance at being the leader"
I look forward to incorporating the tools, shared ideas and wisdom that this Conference brought to me not only with my work life, but with my everyday life. Compassion is such a beautiful gift that we all can spare and share.

What can I say about the Conference and beautiful Ireland and the many kind and generous people I met? I would say I would do it all again.

- Arlene Mayes, 2009 Face of Mental Illness

New Faces of MIAW 2010: Christine Dubois

Meet Chrisine, one of the Faces of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Christine Dubois is a support worker, author, and volunteer from Asbestos, Québec.

Read Christine's story.

A message to sufferers of anxiety disorders: you are not alone

When they struck hardest, Maria Connell says she feared she was about to die.

A racing heart. Shortness of breath. The shakes, the sweats. And this overpowering, suffocating feeling of fear, so strong it overwhelms any sense of reason.

"It just brings you to your knees."

Connell, 46, suffers from anxiety disorder, the subject of a talk at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre on Thursday. You can only admire her courage.

We spoke for a couple of hours this week. One story from many:

She was flying from Vancouver to Ottawa when, somewhere over Winnipeg, it hit her. She had to get off the plane.

She reached over and grabbed the arm of a stewardess. She asked if the pilot could land immediately.

The crew member, to her credit, took Connell to the rear of the aircraft. She soothed her, told her it would be just as quick to land in Ottawa than to divert, gave her yogurt, stayed by her side, kept talking.

She survived.

Read full article

By Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen, June 9, 2010


Secondhand smoke linked to psychiatric illness

It's well-known that smoking and secondhand smoke are dangerous to our health, but are they also harmful to our mental health? A new study suggests they might be.

The study in the Archives of General Psychiatry has drawn a link between secondhand smoke and psychological distress, as well as the risk of future hospitalization for psychiatric illness.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a prospective association between objectively assessed secondhand smoke exposure and mental health in a representative sample of a general population," write the authors, who were led by Mark Hamer, of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.

Read full article

New Faces of MIAW 2010: Dr. Ted Jablonski

Meet Ted, one of the Faces of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Dr. Ted Jablonski is a family physician in Calgary, Alberta.

Read Ted's story.

Ted is also a singer-songwriter.Listen to Dr.J's music.

Marie Asuncion's video blog

Our 2010 Face, Marie Asuncion, introduces herself and discusses how she manages stress.

Marie will be sending us video blogs over the course of the Face Mental Illness campaign leading up to Mental Illness Awareness Week Oct 3-9. Check back often!


New Faces of MIAW 2010: Jennifer Ashawasegai

Meet Jennifer, one of the Faces of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Jennifer Ashawasegai is a journalist and a member of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario.

Read Jennifer's Story.