When Pam Litman and Kathy Lempert from AMI-Quebec approached me to be a part of a unique event I was immediately intrigued.
AMI-Quebec Action on Mental Illness, which is located in Montreal, Quebec, helps families manage the effects of mental illness through support, education, guidance, and advocacy.
During the onset of symptoms of bipolar disorder in 2003-2005, I relied on AMI’s services to learn how to cope with my illness. I have been an active volunteer since 2006, as a way to both give back and pay it forward. AMI-Quebec has had a profound impact on my life and the lives of countless others who have been affected by mental illness, and it is my honour to help in any way I can.
For this new event, Pam and Kathy had something unique in mind: a salon-style event centred around two married couples who were willing to discuss how they manage mental illness in their marriages, both from the perspective of the consumer and of the caregiver. Mental illness has a powerful impact on caregivers, and this is not often discussed. Kathy kindly offered to host the event in her lovely home, and my wife, Anna, and I were pleased to be one of the couples.
The second couple was Liz Weiner and her husband, Lee. Liz is the co-founder of Wise Women Canada, which offers a lifestyle blog and a radio show on CJAD 800. She is also an active advocate for breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness, speaking openly about her diagnosis of clinical depression. The four of us answered questions and shared stories of how we work together to manage the illnesses that Liz and I face.
The evening was spectacular, warm, comfortable, educational and opened minds and hearts. I truly feel it was because all of you created that environment through your energy, honesty, eloquence and openness.
You are both such wonderful couples, partners in life and beautiful examples of a loving marriage. You had a huge impact on people last night and I know the wave will reach many.
~Kathy Lempert, AMI-Quebec volunteer and event host
[From left to right: Jason Finucan, Anna Czarneki, Kathy Lempert, Liz Weiner and Lee Shulkin.]
This event was a wonderful example of the kind of creative approach we need to take in order to truly eradicate the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. In the end, it will always come down to education and understanding – which can only happen with open, honest communication.
I founded stigmaZERO to help employers address the complex and challenging reality of mental illness stigma. I offer clients impactful and eye-opening keynote lectures as well as our innovative stigmaZERO Workplace Program.
The stigmaZERO Workpace Program has a top-down methodology which has been carefully designed to ensure maximum impact. In order for workshops with employees to be effective, they must know their managers and senior leadership are already committed to a stigmaZERO workplace.
If you would like to learn more about how our unique services can create real, lasting impact on your company’s ability to manage mental illness and stigma, contact me for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit my website at www.stigmazero.com.
Founder & Stigma Expert