Mental Life in Canada

New report from Mental Health International

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What is special about this project?

These stories encompass many themes and provide insight into the importance of self-identity/self-expression, acceptance, belonging and social connectedness. However, they also critically address societal expectations and structural inequalities that reinforce stigma and have a negative impact on individuals living with a brain condition.

Through this project, we also prioritize giving a voice to underrepresented communities and fostering representation. Brain disorders and their associated stigma affect individuals from diverse backgrounds and at different stages, which highlights the need for inclusivity and representation in addressing these barriers.

Why is it so important to address stigma?

Although progress has been made, stigma still poses a significant barrier to care for many people and can lead to a lower quality of life and significant adverse health outcomes. Stigma is a cross-cutting issue and needs to be addressed on multiple levels (individual, social and institutional) as well as taking into consideration the unique and distinctive experiences of different groups and communities. Structural inequities and negative social norms/expectations further contribute to sources of adversity and limit access to supports and services. Stigma not only affects individuals, but the entire fabric of society. By addressing stigma, we can contribute to creating an inclusive and equitable society as well as creating spaces where individuals can share their experiences and feel empowered.

Learn more

Hear from brain health leaders about next steps

  • Bill Wilkerson, Executive Chairman of Mental Health International

  • Joseph Ricciuti, Co-Founder of Mental Health International

  • Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President & Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute

  • Launch event

  • Nirushi & Noah: Discussion about mental health

  • CP-Net patient partners: Video to debunk stigma

Important lessons everyone can integrate into their lives include:

  • Think about the words you are using and avoid stigmatizing language. Try to use person-centered language, which is centered around putting people first. It emphasizes the person rather than the condition.
  • Educate yourself about negative stereotypes and misinformation.
  • Openly involve yourself and show support for others along their journey.
  • Be patient with yourself. Understand that you are trying your best.
  • People with lived experience have so much to share and should be given a voice. Position them as co-creators and include them from the beginning in research, advocacy, and education initiatives.
  • Diversity and inclusion are fundamental. We need to have honest portrayals and show all sides/faces of lived experiences.
  • Organizations should be able to provide accommodation to individuals with lived experience. This includes supporting people in navigating through the accommodation process, whether it be at school or work.


We recognize the strengths and resilience of our blog writers who have experienced stigma and celebrate the ways in which they have overcome these hurdles. We would also like to thanks to both our PCAC Committee and blog writers, who supported us in this project through numerous consultations and conversations. Our PCAC Committee includes individuals living with brain disorders, care givers, community organizations and representatives, research and support staff from each of our IDPs. Lastly, OBI recognizes the profound role of our members and we are actively integrating their perspectives and all sides of lived experience in order to advance brain health.