Speaking over the attentive hush of the large crowd, Taylin McGill (Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Youth category) best conveyed this message during her acceptance speech: “our attitude, when faced with adversity, defines who we are.”
Coming back from adversity of any kind takes tremendous courage, strength, and determination. At Coast Mental Health, we recognize that every one of our clients is on their own personal lifelong recovery journey, so we support each client for life, as needed. We know each journey will include setbacks and challenges, and we provide the specialized community-based supports needed to help clients define and meet their recovery goals. Kathryn Palmer, award recipient in the medical category, acknowledged that the journey is not an easy one: “it is okay to break down, it is okay to struggle, it is okay to cry and in the end, all that matters is that you get back up and be the best person that you can be that day.”
For many people facing hardship, waking up each day with hope for the future is challenging when you face an onslaught of “can’t” and “won’t” when setting aspirational goals. This year’s physical rehabilitation recipient, Harriet Ronaghan, refused to let this negativity hold her back, and used it instead to fuel her recovery: “whenever I was told I wouldn’t do something, I worked three times as hard.”
People living with severe mental illness face negativity and damaging stereotypes on a daily basis. Coast Mental Health works hard to confront and eliminate these obstacles in our facilities and programs because we know the value and potential of each client we serve. Mental Health award recipient Erin Emiru confronts these daily challenges by succeeding despite them: “Today I feel strong. I feel true. I feel the opposite of what one psychiatrist meant when he said: ‘You’ll never be a productive member of society.’”
For over 45 years, Coast Mental Health has understood that people living with mental illness can find a meaningful place in our community: a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work. Coast Mental Health is leading the way by providing the proven housing, support services, and employment and educational opportunities needed to promote lasting recovery from mental illness. An important part of many of our community-based programs is the presence of Peer Support Workers who received training from Coast Mental Health. Shared lived experience of mental illness creates an immediate connection between Peer Support Workers and the clients they serve. This connection supports the successful transition from crisis to recovery, and from hospital to community for both workers and clients alike.
Every one of this year’s recipients has enriched their community by sharing their story, whether as a peer support worker, public speaker, fundraiser, or interventionist. For Geri Iininaatoáákii Bemister-Williams, recipient in the addiction category, sharing her story was a challenging but important part of her own journey: “my elders told me to share my story, it would heal me, and it would help to heal others.”
The courageous generosity of people like this year’s phenomenal recipients defines our communities, and allows them to flourish with hope for everyone facing adversity. Each recipient, while providing inspiration to others, credits those who came to help them during the hard times with their ability to come back and give back. In the words of Erin Emiru: “all of your encouragement gave me courage.”
To this year’s five courageous recipients, to the over 120 volunteers who defined the overwhelming success for this year’s gala, to everyone who took the time to honour an inspirational person in their life with a nomination for a Courage award, and to every guest who took time out of their busy schedules to confront the stigma around mental health and support mental health:
You define courage.
You make recovery possible.
The Courage To Come Back Awards recognize five remarkable people whose stories inspire acts of courage and compassion, and ensure that Coast Mental Health can continue to provide compassionate, meaningful support for anyone with the courage to come back from mental illness. To read the inspirational stories of this year’s five courageous recipients, visit couragetocomeback.ca/2019-recipients-2/.
Coast Mental Health is the largest provider of community-based services for people living with mental illness in British Columbia. We are an established leader in our field, known for high quality, innovative programs and research. Each year, we provide essential services to over 4,300 clients living with mental illness so they can find their meaningful place in our communities – a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work. Coast Mental Health Foundation raises funds exclusively for Coast Mental Health. To find out more about the life-changing programs and services offered by Coast Mental Health, visit www.coastmentalhealth.com.