Continuing the talk on mental health
By Andrew Carroll, Gazette Editor
A year after Heather Stuart hosted the first Bell Lecture on Mental Health and Anti-Stigma, she is amazed at the connections that have been made.
It’s a development she didn’t anticipate.
“On any given week two or three or four people, sometimes members of the public, sometimes other professionals, will send me an email or phone me or sometimes send me thank you cards, just to give me support for the work I’m doing or to ask a question or many times to tell a story,” says Dr. Stuart, the Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair.
That information has proven valuable and has shown her just how important the discussion is and that it already is having an impact. The second of five annual lectures was held in Ottawa on June 10 with special guest Barbara Crook (Artsci’79), a philanthropist and mental health advocate.
Looking back over the past year, Dr. Stuart says there have been a lot of positives to create a foundation for the goals ahead. Starting the discussion in a public forum has been good for so many – family and friends and researchers as well.
“It’s not usual for researchers who are at a university setting to have this kind of access to people out there and I think this lecture, in fact this whole enterprise, has done that,” she says. “I think it has been a huge success in terms of bridging that gap between academia and real people living their real lives.”
Some of those who have contacted Dr. Stuart have talked about what is happening to them personally and she says that has been validating for them.
The program itself commands some authority, Dr. Stuart says, thanks to the support that is there.
“I think that’s been important as well to have somebody like Bell and Queen’s joining forces to say this is important enough to talk about, that we’re going to put this thing on once a year and we’re going to expect people to come,” she says.
Looking ahead, Dr. Stuart said she expects that the remaining three lectures will be held in various cities to help spread the message, not only to the public in general but to Queen’s alumni across the country.
Dr. Stuart says at this year’s lecture they will provide attendees with some concrete steps to apply in their own lives and help eradicate the stigma around mental health issues.
A version of this article first appeared in the June edition of the Gazette newspaper.