Me Too event series aims to shatter mental illness stigma

Sep 8 2016, 11:18 pm

The stats aren’t changing: one in every five Canadians is affected by mental illness and the stigma is as strong as ever.

“Me Too” is bringing some of the brightest minds and speakers to the table to continue the conversation and smash the stigma for the fifth edition of this six-event series.

“Me Too” tells people they’re not alone. That there are others who empathize, sympathize, support, and care for them. The words “me too” are powerful weapons against the prejudice and stereotypes that surround mental illness and addiction.

VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation want you to come out and bring a friend unfamiliar with mental health issues to the free event and join the conversation on September 16.

For Me Too Vol. 5, the two groups have put together a dynamic group of presenters to share their own personal stories of recovery and the ways in which the three domains of stigma (self-stigmatization, social stigma, and structural stigma) have impacted their journey. You’ll leave the event with a better understanding of what stigma is and how we can take action the eliminate it surrounding mental illness.



“We have to open up the conversation about mental health to everyone if we are going to reduce the stigma that keeps so many people from receiving the treatment, consideration, and respect they deserve,” says Barbara Grantham, President and CEO of the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation.

Me Too Vol. 5 speakers

Victoria Maxwell

After her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, anxiety, and psychosis, Victoria Maxwell became extremely proactive in her recovery. She combines her theatre background, personal experience of psychiatric illness, and professional knowledge as a group facilitator and mental health worker, to give a unique and powerful ‘insider’s’ perspective on dealing with depression and other mental illnesses. Maxwell will be performing excerpts from her critically acclaimed play Crazy for Life, which recently captured the Moondance International Film Festival award for best stage play in Colorado, as well as the Gordon Armstrong Theater Award.

Dr. Steven Barnes

Dr. Steven Barnes is co-deputy lead of the CREST.BD network, a faculty member in UBC’s Department of Psychology, and has lived with bipolar disorder (BD). He is an engaging speaker and will share stories of the impact of self stigma.

Dr. Erin Michalak

Dr. Erin Michalak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC in Vancouver. She is the founder and leader of the ‘Collaborative Research Team for the study of psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder’ (CREST.BD), a CIHR-funded Canadian network dedicated to collaborative research and knowledge exchange in bipolar disorder. She will share impactful stories of the effects of social stigma in the community.

Dr. Barbara Harris

An intergenerational residential school survivor, Dr. Barbara Harris ran away from home at 13, living on the streets of Vancouver, in between failed foster placements. Dr. Harris developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to childhood trauma, as well as depression, anxiety, and addiction. Ten years after sobering up, she returned to school at age 40, in spite of her grade 8 education and completed a BSW, MSW, and PhD, working her way through school without any support, and working to overcome mental health issues through counselling. Dr. Harris is a recent recipient of the Courage to Come Back Award. She will share stories from her personal and professional life about how structural stigma has impacted her and others.

An interactive Q&A with the audience will follow the talks.

Join the Me Too conversations online by sharing ‘me too’ stories on Twitter with the hashtag #MeTooVan and by tagging @VGHFdn.

Me Too Vol. 5 event series

When: September 16, 2016

Time: Doors open at 6 pm

Where: SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts – 149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

RSVP here