About the project: resilience and strength portrait series

What is the Resilience and Strength Portrait Series?

The goal of this portrait series is to highlight stories through images to show how individuals have been able to manage and overcome crises and find hope in the face of distress. This is resilience; the ability to recover or to adjust.

Some have creative outlets, others focus on being mindful – all are brave story-tellers who in their own words, share their experiences open and honestly in the hopes it can help others find resilience.

Mental illness knows no boundaries or limitations. It can impact anyone regardless of age, income, education or culture. In any year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will experience a mental health issue. Each year, about 4,000 Canadians die by suicide despite the fact that the underlying mental disorders behind it are treatable. No one has to die by suicide.

These stories of resilience are a reminder that you are not alone and that there is hope.

The Resilience and Strength Portrait Series will be available online and on display at Sunnybrook’s Bayview Campus, in the hallway between F and J Wings from January 30 - February 15, 2019

If you need help in an emergency please call 911 or visit your local emergency department. If you feel like you are in crisis or need somebody to talk to, community resources are here to help 24/7: 

How can I learn more about mental illness and what to do about it?

Our education and resources provide information about various mental health concerns, where to find help, and mental health tips from our experts.

Learn more about the Department of Psychiatry at Sunnybrook.

Who are the people in the portraits?

Those photographed in the Resilience and Strength in Mental Health Portrait Series, are individuals who have battled mental illness and/or addiction. We thank them for graciously sharing their experiences and stories so openly and with incredible honesty. All of the participants expressed the hope that in sharing their story, they may help others who may be struggling with mental illness or addiction. Learn about each person’s journey, in their own words, by going to the portrait gallery at

Who is the photographer?

Kevin Van Paassen is an award-winning photographer who has covered a broad range of assignments over his career, including the war in Afghanistan, the 2012 Olympic Games in London and Canada's health-care system. He is a staff photographer at Sunnybrook.

Special thanks to: