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2010 Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

CAMH spokesperson selected for Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay

Marie Asuncion, CAMH client and spokesperson, has been selected to participate in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay on Wednesday, December 16th. She will run at 5:30 pm in Oshawa. Bell, a Signature Supporter of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, asked CAMH to nominate a deserving volunteer to carry the Olympic Torch.

“I am very honoured to have been selected by CAMH and Bell to be a part of the torch relay and am especially proud to represent both Canada and those living with mental illness,” said Marie. “The fact that I have been chosen shows that the veil surrounding mental illness is being lifted and that organizations like CAMH that strive to end stigma are making progress—like this relay-- one step at a time.”

Though Marie will be running the torch relay to raise awareness for mental illness, the strides she has made to get to this point are truly courageous.

Just before her sixteenth birthday, when most teenage girls are hanging out with friends, going out on dates and dreaming of going away to school, Marie was experiencing paranoia, feeling anxious and hearing voices. After several weeks of ongoing and increasing symptoms, Marie had a full-blown episode of psychosis and was rushed to the hospital for assessment.

Shortly after, Marie was referred to CAMH where she was diagnosed with first episode psychosis and learned she had an imbalance of dopamine, an essential chemical transmitter in the brain. Marie was constantly praying that this ‘thing’ would just go away and hid her illness from teachers and friends for fear of being stigmatized. Once an “A” student, Marie remembers becoming disorganized at school, losing her friends and feeling afraid and isolated. “I was clinging to the hope that I would get better soon – but it never happened until I started visiting CAMH regularly and taking my medication daily.”

Over the years, Marie has learned to recognize her symptoms of psychosis and act quickly to get help when they begin to reemerge. Regular visits to her health care providers at CAMH help Marie manage her illness and maintain a positive balance in all areas of her life.

Now 24 and a university graduate, Marie works full-time as a language teacher to new Canadians and is a concert level harpist. She is a frequent public speaker on behalf of CAMH, raising awareness of mental health issues.

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For media interview, contact Michael Torres, CAMH Media Relations, 416-595-6015 or media@camh.net

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development, prevention and health promotion to transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

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