Event Honours Mental Health Champions with Hero, Hope, Heart Awards

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Saturday February 5, 2011

Toronto, Ontario: More than 350 people are gathering at The Carlu in downtown Toronto tonight to honour Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury for his willingness to speak openly about his depression and to help stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. Mr. Tewksbury will be awarded the Hero Inspiration Award by the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario at a gala event. Joining Mr. Tewksbury on stage will be the Hope Inspiration Award recipient, Dr. Trevor Young, and the Heart Inspiration Award recipients, the Craig family. The event also celebrates the Association’s 25th anniversary.

“These awards are a chance for us to recognize and celebrate those extraordinary people who make a difference in the lives of people living with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder,” said Karen Liberman, Executive Director, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. “We are so proud to honour Mark, Dr. Young and the Craig family, all of whom have gone above and beyond.”

“I am thrilled to be receiving the hero award from the Mood Disorders Association at the Mad About You Gala,although the real heroes are the front line staff that ensure people with mental health issues find treatment,” said Mark Tewksbury. “As a society we have tended to focus on physical fitness instead of mental health.I am proud to be recognized for speaking out, and bringing awareness to this issue.”

Hope Inspiration Award recipient, Dr. Trevor Young, is being recognized for his research work into mood disorders. Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Young’s main area of research includes understanding the molecular basis of bipolar disorder and its treatment. His research is particularly focused on understanding the processes that lead to long-term changes in brain structure and function in patients with bipolar disorder and how these changes can be targeted by mood stabilizing medication.

“What an absolute delight it is to receive the Hope Award,” said Dr. Young. “There has been such a remarkable input of research into the causes of mood disorders, helping the community take these illnesses seriously, reducing stigma and helping people get effective treatment. I am proud to have been able to contribute to the field.”

The Craigs are the first family to receive the Heart Inspiration Award, which honours an individual (or individuals) who has provided exceptional support to a person who has received the diagnosis of a mental illness. The Craigs have demonstrated their commitment to and solidarity with their daughter, Lorna, diagnosed with bipolar disorder four years ago. It is their hope that Lorna's and their continued courage and support in the area of public speaking about the stigma of mental illness will further reduce fear and discrimination.

“I am so excited that my family is being recognized for the power of communication and love in a situation where a family member is experiencing a mental illness,” said Lorna Craig. “The only way that the stigma of mental illness can be eradicated is by representing ourselves as people who live with mental illness, but can still be confidant, inspired, creative people. We are proud of the trials we have been through as a family because of the incredible strength we know now.  I am so grateful for my family's infinite support and I hope their work with the Mood Disorders Association can empower other families to do the same. They have shown me that incredible wisdom can be found even in the darkest of times.”

All recipients will be acknowledged at the Mood Disorders Association’s Mad About You Awards Gala, which begins tonight at 6:00 p.m. at The Carlu at 444 Yonge Street (at College).

About the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (www.mooddisorders.on.ca): Informed by the lived experience, the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario serves communities through providing: awareness, education and training; family and youth clinical support; recovery programs; and, peer support.


For more information, or to arrange interviews with the award recipients, please contact:

Jennifer Foulds, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, (416) 486-8046 ext. 232; (647) 771-5815 (cell)