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A showcase of resilience and strength in mental health

Jan 30, 2019

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A new Sunnybrook portrait series, Resilience and Strength in Mental Health, highlights stories of individuals facing mental illness and/or addiction to show how they have been able to overcome crises in order to find hope and empowerment in the face of distress. This is resilience; the ability to recover or to adjust.

In the Resilience and Strength portrait series, individuals were photographed doing a meaningful activity that helps them cope. Some have creative outlets, others focus on being mindful — all are brave storytellers who, in their own words, share their experiences open and honestly in the hopes doing so can help others find their own path of resilience.

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

“Even when you’re at your lowest, being resilient means always moving forward, even if you’re taking tiny steps,” says Tera Armel, who is shown writing in her journal. “My OCD often causes me to have irrational fears that if I ignore a negative thought, this could somehow cause it to come true. However, when I actually see them written down on paper, I am released from the bonds of this intrusive thinking. “

Mental illness can impact anyone regardless of age, income, education or culture – it knows no boundaries. In any year, one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health issue. Each year, about 4,000 Canadians die by suicide.

These stories of resilience are a reminder that those who are suffering from mental illness are not alone and that there is hope.

For Virginia McKinnell, reaching out for help when she had suicidal feelings was a pivotal moment, “I was scared and thought my life was never going to be the same if I said something and asked for help. It was not the case. I had so much support. It was like a weight was lifted.” Virginia has now combined her passion for mental health awareness and running.

“At my worst moments, I would wake up in the morning profoundly dreading the day ahead. I counted the hours until I could take my night medication and go back to sleep,” says Linda Gardiner Moneith. Her love of photography and art has helped her deal with schizoaffective disorder. “Now, I wake up and am excited about the possibilities the day may bring.”

Each journey is different. For many, the journey continues.

View the full portrait series at sunnybrook.ca/resilient


If you need help in an emergency please call 911 or visit your local emergency department. If you’re feeling like you’re in crisis, or need somebody to talk to, please know that help is also available 24/7 through community resources:

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