A mental health champion

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May. 18, 2012

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

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For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Renee Sweeney, Consultant
Communication & Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Phone: 519 646-6100 ext. 47788
Email: Renee.Sweeney@sjhc.london.on.ca

St. Joseph’s Health Care London
St. Joseph’s Health Care London is leading patient care, teaching and research centre in Canada with a distinguished legacy of service to London, Southwestern Ontario and the veterans of Canada, dating back more than 130 years. St. Joseph’s five key role areas include acute/ambulatory care, complex care and veterans care, long-term care, rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics and specialized mental health care. Facilities and services including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkwood Hospital, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and Regional Mental Health Care London and St. Thomas are part of the St. Joseph’s family. Our research arm, the Lawson Health Research Institute, continues to direct their research to the development of new knowledge that is continually being applied directly to patient care. St. Joseph’s is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario. visit www.sjhc.london.on.ca

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