It’s safe to say that things looked a bit different this year at our 5th breakfast event in support of men’s mental health. We traded in our business casual for our work-from-home attire and hopped on our computers to host our first ever virtual breakfast. 2021 has not come without its own unique challenges, and while we hope to all come together again in the future, we are incredibly grateful for our friends at Connect Event Hub for making this possible. We would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to each of our talented and inspiring speakers, whose words touch all of us that attended. We hope you continue to spread your message, because the conversation for mental health never stops.
To kick-off the morning was Mary Ann Baynton, one of Canada’s leading experts on the topic of mental health in the workplace. Mary Ann put her expertise to work by guiding attendees through the process of stress, anxiety, and how to effectively achieve psychological safety. As the author of several mental health books, Mary Ann is passionate about helping workers find balance, mindfulness, and prevent burnout.
Next up was Joe Mancinelli with an important message. As the International Vice President and Regional Manager of LiUNA Central and Eastern Canada, Joe oversees the hardships workers face on a daily basis, and the unique obstacles men face when coping with mental health challenges. From a young age, men are taught to believe that they should be the breadwinners, the “macho” man, the carer of his family. Society ingrains the idea that men are meant to suppress their feelings, and that “boys don’t cry”. As a result, men die by suicide more often than women. To help combat this, Joe implemented efforts such as putting posters in the breakroom with mental health resources, but soon realized his workers were reluctant to approach the posters for fear of being stigmatized. He explains it’s an ongoing effort to encourage these men to come forward and talk about their mental health, but is something he is passionate about.
There was not a dry eye as Domenic Cecol, Chief Design Officer/VP Marketing of The Central Group, shared a touching story of his personal struggles with mental health and thoughts of suicide. His courage and vulnerability only further proved the message that speaking up and getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Domenic’s powerful words reminded us all that it does get better, and though you may feel like you will never escape the dark place and dark thoughts that cloud your brain, there is always lightness ahead.
Ty Baynton added a musical touch to the morning with a powerful performance of his hit song “Roads I Never Traveled” off his latest album Rough Around the Edges. Born and raised in Waterdown, Ontario, Ty grew up to be a standout performer in the world of country music, going on to perform at the popular Boots & Hearts Music Festival and Manitoulin Country Fest, and even receiving a nomination for Best Country Artist at the Toronto Independent Music Awards. Ty’s songwriting tells a story of his wins, losses, and hardships that come with finding your way in the music industry, and his genuine talent is unmistakable. To hear more of Ty’s music, visit https://www.tybaynton.com/.
We were so honoured to have Rashaad Vahed, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Halton Region Branch share his expertise with us this morning. Rashaad also shares a passion for supporting youth mental health, serving as Co-Chair of Child and Youth Mental Health Standard that works to establish effective mental health services for individuals ages 0-25. He is among the other inspiring mental health advocates who strive to create a better future by informing policy decisions and leading organizations to operationalize best-in-class mental health services.
Last, but certainly not least, André Picard ended off the morning. Working as a reporter and columnist for the Globe and Mail since 1987, André has become one of Canada’s top observers in mental health and public policy, earning titles such as Canada’s first “Public Health Hero” and a “Champion of Mental Health”, and is a past recipient of the prestigious Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism. André walked us through the potential mental health fallout of the pandemic, and how we can best prepare and respond to protect our own mental health.
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