Lots of people may choose to sit on a beach or visit famous faraway places when they get a few days off, but I chose something quite local, historical, and political instead. I took the opportunity to affect change on a larger scale.
As the past-president of the Canadian Federation of Mental Health Nurses (CFMHN), I am very pleased to represent psychiatric nurses nationally as a board member of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness & Mental Health (CAMIMH). CAMIMH is a non-profit organization made up of health care providers and organizations which represent individuals with lived experience of mental illness.
Established in 1998, CAMIMH is a volunteer run alliance of national organizations whose activities span the broad continuum of mental health. They represent consumers and their families; health care and social service providers; professional associations; and community and research organizations. Together, we at CAMIMH constitute a vibrant network of national, provincial and community-based organizations dedicated to serving the mental health needs of the people of Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Their lived mission is to promote and facilitate the development, adoption, and implementation of a national action plan on mental illness and mental health. To achieve this, CAMIMH aims to engage Canadians in a national conversation about mental illness.
Our 17 year old son, Shayne, lost all hope and believed things were never going to get any better and as a result, took matters into his own hands. On March 3, 2014, our son hanged himself in our stairwell, just outside our bedroom doors. We have now entered into a realm that no parent or person should have to enter.
Suicide devastates those left behind and its wake is widespread, affecting all those who knew the person. It is a permanent solution to an often temporary problem, either real or perceived, that once completed cannot be reversed and erases any future that the person was destined to have. The impact of the death is felt by many, yet understood by few, if any.
For every person that dies by suicide, there are several lives that are deeply impacted, whose lives are forever changed. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, cousins, wives, husbands, children, friends, colleagues—the list is endless and the impact massive, if not catastrophic.
I believe that if that person truly understood the pain, the devastation and the hurt left behind, they would not intentionally inflict such pain and suffering on their families, friends, teachers, therapists or others. However, I also believe in that moment of impulsivity, isolation and despondency, there is no logical thought. From their point of view; either based on untrue assumptions or internalized thoughts focused on the relentless struggle, pain and heaviness; death seems very logical and the only solution. BUT it isn’t!
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as oneJohn Lennon
I am not sure if Lennon had specifically thought of people with mental health challenges when he wrote the lyrics to Imagine, but I think the spirit of his message applies to us all. And it is that vision that inspired the Imagine Festival back in 2009. After starting as a film festival, Imagine expanded to other activities and collaborations with other community stakeholders.
This year our signature event is a sold-out concert featuring Juno Award Winning artist Colin James and an opening presentation by noted radio host Alan Cross at the Regent Theatre in Oshawa, a historic 600 seat venue operated by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).
The Imagine Festival kicked off October 2 with a presentation in collaboration with Abilities Centre. Kevin Pearce, at one time was one of the best snowboarders in the world battling head to head with fellow US competitor Shaun White. His professional career came to an end while training for the Olympic games in Vancouver when he hit his head on a half-pipe suffering severe brain trauma.