St. Joseph’s Regional Mental Health Care (RMHC) is proud to congratulate Brett Batten, mental health advocate and former patient, as the individual winner of the 2012 Mental Health Champion Award presented at the Breakfast of Champions event on May 8.
The award, presented by St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), creates an opportunity each year to honour a person who demonstrates excellence in mental health within the London community.
“It was truly an honour and humbling experience for me to present this year’s award to Brett,” says Janet Tufts, CMHA board member. “Brett lives each day carrying out the important work the award intends to recognize. His commitment to reducing the stigma around mental illness and advocating for change is extraordinary, particularly when you think of how far he has come since his darker days.”
Brett was first hospitalized at age 15. His story describes the remarkable impact of serious mental illness and ultimately incarceration in Ontario’s correctional system and the forensic program at RMHC St. Thomas. A father of two, he was a successful business owner and involved in his community prior to coming into conflict with the law. After a seven-year journey that included a short jail term then years as an inpatient and outpatient at RMHC, Brett received an absolute discharge and has been living well in the community ever since.
More than that, Brett has taken what he has learned from managing his illness and began using it to help others. Now an avid writer and advocate, he has written a book and maintains a blog site- both serve as a way to educate others, promote awareness and bring mental illness out of the shadows.
Since 2008, Brett has also been engaged in speaking publicly about his experiences which have evolved to include major mental health conferences such as the Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR Canada) National Conference in Ottawa, the CMHA’s National Conference in London; and the McMaster University/St. Joseph’s Health Care (Hamilton) Risk and Recovery Conference.
“Reaching out and sharing my story is important in providing hope and reducing stigma,” says Brett. “To be healthy after many years of struggle, hopefully, will give someone else who is struggling the ability to see the same is possible for them.”
When Brett shares his story people's minds seem to open up a little more. “If people can accept me it is my hope they can do the same for others affected by mental illness. We walk around with labels on our tongues and misconceptions in our minds. If I can lend my story and change how a person feels about me it might change how they think about others.”
Visit Brett’s blog at: http://brettbatten.com
Brett Batten, far left, receives the Mental Health Champion Award at the 2012 Breakfast of Champions event from Janet Tufts, CMHA Board Member and Mike Petrenko, CMHA Executive Director