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Stories of recovery

​​CAMH clients share their inspiring stories of recovery and hope.

Sharlene
Sharlene is a client of the Richmond Street Clinic, and has been living independently in the community for the last 10 years. Her daily encouragement to others at the clinic was recently recognized at the third Annual Richie Awards.


Meet Ephrem

Ephrem won an award recognizing his outstanding achievements and efforts in the recovery goal of employment or volunteer work. He is a client at the Archway Clinic, an outpatient service of CAMH’s Complex Mental Illness Program which provides treatment programs for people who have chronic schizophrenia or related disorders and are living in the community.

Valynn shows her painting

Recreation therapy is playing an important role in helping Valynn recover from anxiety and depression. The Toronto artist has been in and out of hospital for the past 10 years and found that a piece of the treatment puzzle was missing; one that medications and talk therapy were not addressing adequately.

Pierre smiling

Pierre proudly shows off the new sketch he has been working on. Living with schizophrenia for most of his life, Pierre has lived as a hospital inpatient at CAMH for the past few years. Since the fall, he has successfully transitioned back into the community.

Woman typing

Helen has struggled with social anxiety as long as she can remember. Through the support of her family, friends and technology, the 23 year old is finding her voice.

Austin

Growing up in North Toronto in a leafy suburban neighbourhood, things went off the rails for Austin after his parents divorced. Desperate to be accepted and dodge the problems at home, Austin started with smoking and by time he was 12, he was smoking marijuana. Thanks in part to the Youth Day Hospital program at CAMH, he was able to stay in school while receiving support for his recovery.

Gordon Brown

From life on the streets as an addict to teaching kids how to cook, Gordon Brown feels most at home when he’s in the kitchen. “I love working with these kids, sharing what I know, seeing their smiles,” says the former cocaine addict-turned-baker-turned-cooking instructor.

Catherine Fraser

Catherine Fraser began using drugs as a teenager to escape the life she was living. “I grew up in a household where my father’s alcoholism and rage dominated my upbringing. My feelings of shame, inadequacy, and hopelessness grew into having severe bouts of depression and anxiety. I could not cope. I tried everything, anything, just to numb the pain and hide away from the sad world I knew,” she says.

Jason N

After three hospitalizations Jason was admitted in to CAMH’s Mood and Anxiety Program where he received group and individual treatment, “…opening up during the therapy sessions and reaching out to people paid off in the end. I realized that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I had to take advantage of it.”

Cassandra

Cassandra was admitted to CAMH’s Partial Hospital Program (PHP) to receive treatment for schizoaffective disorder. The program prepared her to return to work, “I’ve made a lot of progress in a short period of time, and hope to possibly start my own business one day. I want people living with mental illness to know there is help out there and you don’t have to suffer in silence.”

Bronwen

Bronwen Sims says her job as a CAMH peer support worker keeps her healthy. “I still have my up and down days, but having the regularity of the job and the consistency and routine is something that helps.” Living with bipolar disorder, Bronwen works at Spectrum outpatient clinic for people living in the community with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Tamara's story Tamara lost many close friends and relatives to addiction and used alcohol to cope, “I saw my family members die from drinking and I continued to drink. I knew I needed help if I wanted to survive.” CAMH’s Aboriginal Service was where Tamara got the help she needed.


CAMH client Jane Webber tells the story of her struggle with depression, and the various treatments she tried - from medications to ECT - before success with the new magnetic pulse therapy MST - at the grand opening of the new Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention.


In this video, CAMH client Lamar Langely proudly shows us her new apartment and talks about living in the community after a long-stay in hospital.


What Housing Means to Me: The Voices of People Living with Mental Illness. As part of the knowledge exchange activities for the Turning the Key project, various mental health consumers talked to CAMH about their experiences with housing and supports.

Home is definitely where the heart is. Over the summer Lindsay, a Workman Arts artist and former CAMH outpatient signed her lease for an apartment at the non-CAMH building at 100 Lower Ossington Avenue – the Ossington-Queen Street Rental Apartments.

Raymond was smoking in excess of 50 cigarettes a day. He found help at CAMH's Nicotine Dependence Clinic and was able to quit.

Four years ago Angela was brought into the ER at the College Street site. She was suicidal and unable to help herself.  Angela received treatment, support and education through CAMH's Mood and Anxiety Program.

Nick struggled to finish high school while recovering from addiction. He managed to do both with help from CAMH. “I enrolled at CAMH and from the very beginning the time I spent there was the best part of my day. At CAMH I felt accepted and safe, I welcomed the structure and support which held me together, and contained me.”

Just before her sixteenth birthday Marie began experiencing paranoia, anxiety and hearing voices.  After an episode of psychosis Marie was treated at CAMH’s First Episode Psychosis Clinic, a comprehensive program designed to meet the needs of young people and their families with the initial period of recovery and adjustment.

Sean successfully battled an opiate addiction now educates others by sharing his experience, “What makes CAMH so unique is the willingness to work with people and accept them for who they are - they give a lifeline to people of all ages and all walks of life.”

A client of CAMH’s Gender Identity Clinic, Rachel Paige Price knows first-hand how work aids recovery. With the help of CAMH clinical staff at the Gender Identity Clinic and the Employment Works Program, Paige re-entered the workforce.

At 20 years old, Ridwan Tahseen, devastated by the breakup of a relationship, he began cutting himself. He experiences paranoia and his grades dropped. In a feature story in The Globe and Mail, Ridwan recounted how he found help at CAMH's First Episode Psychosis program and has resumed his education and social activities.

Frank worked in a high-pressure world that eventually led to addictions to cocaine and methamphetamines. Now, with the help of CAMH, Frank has controlled his addictions and is enrolled in Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in addition to his volunteer work with CAMH clients.

Pat was diagnosed with clinical depression at 14 and bipolar disorder at 18. His parents became aware of CAMH and its services through the Transforming Lives media campaign and as a result, Pat received the care and treatment he needed.

Henry is an acclaimed artist who overcame addiction with the help of CAMH. Here is what he says about his experience.

Earla battled social phobia and found the help she needed at CAMH. She now leads North America's largest support group, “I was terrified to walk through that door, because I knew that there was no turning back. I know now that going to CAMH was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

All in the Family: DVD shows intimate portraits of families affected by mental illness and addiction.

The CAMH Foundation's Transforming Lives campaign features celebrities and non-celebrities sharing their personal experiences with mental illness and addiction. Transforming Lives Awards recipients on YouTube.
Shelagh Rogers
Rick Green
Brian Glasgow
Esther Mwangi
Betty-Lou Kristy
Jesse Bigelow
Bill Macphee
Kathy Bedard

Young CAMH clients shared their personal experiences with mental health and addiction in radio PSA’s for Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Video "Beyond Psychosis" tells the stories of five young people who experienced psychosis.


CAMH is always looking for clients to share their experiences. If you have received treatment at CAMH and would like to share your story, please contact Public Affairs at (416) 535-8501 x 4250​ or email public.affairs@camh.ca​
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