Mental Illness Awareness Week: Starting and keeping those conversations going

It’s Mental Illness Awareness week (#MIAW17) and I just wanted to give a shout out to the Paul Hansell Foundation, whose aim is to aim is to also erase the stigma surrounding mental health and to support programs aimed at the emotional well-being of youth.

One of the ways that the Foundation is doing this is through the circulation of a #ConvoPlate, which is a hand painted stoneware plate featuring hopeful and inspiring messages about mental health. The plates are designed to start conversations about mental health, and to keep the conversation going along with the plate, which is meant to be sent to someone new every few weeks. I was honoured to receive one as a gift — at a time when I needed it most.

The Foundation asks that we take a photo and share it through our own networks on social media as a way to raise awareness and let our young people know we are always listening. Check out @PaulHansellFdn on Twitter or

I was mulling who I would share my #ConvoPlate with and then it came to me. It was my son René’s 19th birthday.

I am so proud of the steps he has already taken to improve and protect his mental health and overall well-being, and grateful to be starting the conversation with him.

The gift of the plate did exactly what it was intended to do as it was an opportunity for us to talk about mental health, his personal accomplishments in becoming healthier, and how we can all continue to support that.

René was visibly moved to receive the plate. He is already thinking about how he will pass it — and the conversation — along.

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