Rise Asset Development Graduation Day!

In November of 2015, I was approached by Mary Ross at the TranQool Duck Syndrome event. Mary is the professor at the Rise Asset Development Youth Small Business Program, at the Rotman School of Management. The program is designed to help young entrepreneurs, all with lived mental health experience write a business plan for their start up ideas using the Rotman Designworks curriculum and Mary invited me to join them. 

Mary, myself and the Executive Director of Rise, Jody Butts on graduation day.  Mary is very funny, this is probably why we are struggling to keep it together. 

Mary, myself and the Executive Director of Rise, Jody Butts on graduation day.  Mary is very funny, this is probably why we are struggling to keep it together. 

Over a very intense two months, our class of 20 met, collaborated, got excited and then threw it all out the window and started again. Yesterday, we gave our final business pitches and a couple times I teared up at how far some of my new friends had come, and knowing how hard they had worked to get there.

By presentation day, we had a concert promoter, a youth consciousness movement, a circus school for rural kids, a tutoring service for students with disabilities and a travel company for new explorers on a budget. Many of the pitches shared a strong desire to give back to their communities, just like Rise does. My classmates all wanted to pay it forward... on steroids. 

Those kids weren't students, but maybe someday!

Those kids weren't students, but maybe someday!

My proposed business is called Polar Wellness Consulting. I will provide strategies for workplace mental health, tested in the real world. Polar will provide workshops to fellow workplaces around the GTA on how best to deal with mental health issues on their teams; with proactive solutions and also advice on how to move forward with better strategies if the team has struggled in the past. Not like other dry, sensitivity trainings at all, Polar focusses on a conversational style where all concepts will be explained through examples I have personally experienced at work or school. Follow up on twitter @PolarWrkplaceMH

Now we have our business plans and we've our pitches, it's time to go make it work in the real world!

ACT4Me Day


Toronto Middle Schoolers had a PD Day last week and Healthy Minds Canada took the opportunity to take over Oakdale Community Centre and host a day of Mental Health themed workshops!

We started with Resilience (taught by me!) then moved on to Empathy and then a scavenger hunt. After a fabulous home cooked lunch, provided by Second Harvest, we watched some clips of how Mental Health is shown in the media.

The whole day was capped off with a round table to discuss questions from the kids! Another great event filled with learning and fun put on by the folks at  Healthy Minds Canada: ACT 4 Me!

Back to School

I am so excited to announce that I am headed back to school in January 2016 at the Rise Asset Development Program, powered by Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto. The Rise Program uses the Rotman Designworks curriculum, adapted for aspiring young entrepreneurs with lived Mental Health experience. At the end of this three month intensive, I will have a workshopped business plan and pitch ready to launch my idea.

While in the early stages, my concept is all about Health and Safety in the workplace. I'm not talking hard hats though, I mean creating protocols and training managers to help businesses care for their employees during Mental Health Crises, with a focus on retention through bouts of illness. 1 in 5 Canadians will have a Mental Health diagnosis in their lifetime, how many coworkers is that for you?

I will need interview subjects for market research: does this sound like something your company could use? What services would you be looking for in this field? Head over to the contact page at the top right so we can chat! 

TranQool: The Duck Syndrome

Tonight I participated in a panel discussion at OCAD in Toronto on Social Media, its popular campaigns and how they change our Mental Health. I was invited by a new start-up called TranQool. Their goal is to connect us with the right therapists, at the right price, over the internet. Launching in January 2016, I am so excited to see what these guys come up with next.

The panel included Sara Dimerman (@helpmesara), Wardah Malik (@malik_wardah) and myself. Coming from three different social media perspectives, we talked about the research that goes into campaigns, what tends to make (but doesn't guarantee) something go viral, how all this effects our day to day and of course, the Cats of the Internet


Attempts were made to stream us live on Periscope, apparently to various amount of success based on the watcher's tech abilities. 

I had a great time, met some cool new folks and was happy to see some old colleagues in attendance. Thanks to all who engaged on Twitter, in person or otherwise!

Healthy Minds Canada 10th Silver Dinner

Last night was Healthy Minds Canada's 10th Annual Silver Dinner at the Weston Harbour Castle in Toronto!

I was honoured with a spot as a speaker on the evening's program, addressing over 500 of Toronto's best dressed Stigma Fighters and Mental Health advocates.


I spoke of my writing, my experience at a Mental Hospital, my favourite book and looked like a sparkly cup cake. 

I'm eagerly awaiting how much the dinner raised this year, with a goal of $400,000 or more!

Healthy Minds Canada 2015 AGM

Healthy Minds Canada is a small but mighty organization. With two full time staff and only three on the payroll total, they have a huge footprint of those they help. I have been a committed member of their online community of bloggers since the program's inception in January 2014 and have been involved with their anti-stigma, awareness efforts as well as fundraising initiatives ever since.

Check out all their efforts here.

 I was invited to this year's Annual General Meeting to speak about my lived experience with Bipolar Disorder and how Healthy Minds and writing helps me on my journey. Listen to my talk here.

Thanks to Katie and Chelsea for all their hard work on this evening! Keep changing the world ladies!

2015 RBC Run for the Kids

Ten years ago the fabulous team of doctors, nurses and staff at Sunnybrook Hospital saved my life during my first major depressive episode. 

This fall I was invited to give back through the RBC Run For the Kids, benefiting Youth Mental Health at Sunnybrook on the Youthdale Treatment Centre's team. 

I raised just over $1,000.00, enough for the assessment and possible intake of four new patients! That is four lives to be saved, just like mine was.

My partner and I walked the 5km surrounded by 6,000 others in our category. Over 8,000 showed up to participate, including many young families. It was wonderful to see the next generation of stigma fighters already in action! They are learning young to be active, committed members of their communities as well as open minded about mental health.