Initiative Campaign

Breaking the Silence

Heather Stuart

A Queen’s professor of community health and epidemiology, and self-described "stigma-buster," Heather Stuart addressed a mixed audience of Queen’s alumni and mental health professionals at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox.

We're here to break the silence.

They came to hear her give the first annual Bell Lecture on Mental Health and Anti-Stigma on June 25, 2013. The home of Toronto’s annual film festival might seem an unusual venue for a lecture, but this was no dry academic exercise. Rather, it was an appeal, a call to action.

[Heather Stuart]

It's the silence that surrounds mental illness and our attitudes towards it that Stuart wants to break. It is the silence that stops us from understanding those suffering from mental illness. It is the silence the stigma surrounding mental illness imposes on its sufferers: a stigma that stops them from seeking help. "Our goal tonight," she told the audience, "is to take mental illness out from under the shroud of secrecy."

It is a goal to which Heather Stuart has dedicated her career. In recognition of her important work, in February 2012, she became the first ever holder of the Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Thanks to Bell's generous $1,000,000 donation to the Initiative Campaign, Dr. Stuart can dedicate herself to developing and disseminating best practices for reducing stigma, hire research assistants and reach out through conferences and talks such as this one. Bell's investment in her will help those struggling with the stigma of mental illness to gain greater understanding and acceptance.

"Start talking about mental illness," Stuart tells her audience. "And realize that you can be part of a solution."


  • [photo of Heather Stuart at podium]
    Heather Stuart, Professor of Community Health and Epidemiology and Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair
  • [photo of James FitzGerald at the podium]
    James FitzGerald, journalist and award-winning author
  • [photo of Dean of Health Sciences, Richard Reznick ]
    Dean of Health Sciences, Richard Reznick
  • [photo of James FitzGerald, Heather Stuart and Mary Deacon]
    James FitzGerald, Heather Stuart and Mary Deacon
  • [photo of Michael Landsberg, Mary Deacon and James FitzGerald]
    Michael Landsberg, Mary Deacon and James FitzGerald
  • [photo of Mary Deacon]
    Mary Deacon, chair of the Bell "Let’s Talk" mental health initiative
  • [photo of Michael Landsberg]
    Michael Landsberg, host of TSN’s "Off the Record," was the master of ceremonies
  • [photo of Heather Stuart and Michael Landsberg]
    Heather Stuart and Michael Landsberg in Queen's colours
  • [photo of Principal Daniel Woolf, VP Advancement Tom Harris, and Barbara Palk
    Principal Daniel Woolf, Vice-Principal (Advancement) Tom Harris, and Barbara Palk of the Initiative Campaign Cabinet

See also...