by Darrell Burnham, CEO Coast Mental Health
Coast Mental Health staff see hope and triumph every day.
Coast Mental Health started the CTCB Awards seventeen years ago. We saw this event as means to highlight the triumph and perseverance of the human spirit.
Through the Courage Awards, we meet six remarkable people who demonstrate these characteristics. Each recipient is a beacon of hope, a fearless hero, a shining example of possibility.
To us it is a wonderful parallel to the recovery we see in people with mental illness.
No matter how bleak things may be, not matter what hardship or misfortune you face, through the right supports and inspiration we all have an ability to rise up and find a brighter future. It shows that there is resilience in each of us that allows us to pick ourselves up, to dust ourselves off, and to overcome.
Over the years we have had many hundreds of nominees, each with their own extraordinary story. Every story has a common thread – great adversity, a life filled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, heartbreak, suffering, and despair.
For me, I learn just how challenging life can be and I see how fortunate most of us are to have our safety, comfort and health. In fact, when I read the challenges Courage nominees have faced, my trivial problems pale in comparison to these remarkable individuals.
And yet out of these stories of heartbreak and despair, somehow, each person finds the internal strength to persevere, to rise up and to ultimately spread their wings and soar. They find the courage to not just continue on, but to engage and inspire others and in so doing they are giving back to their communities.
If you speak to the frontline staff at Coast Mental Health, they can relate. Every day they work with people with mental illness: people who have endured significant hardship and have faced unimaginable odds in their battle with these sometimes-crippling diseases.
Mental illness is a thief, it robs you of your identity, it takes away your livelihood and it isolates you from your friends and family. It leaves you a shadow of yourself… alone and hopeless. And if diseases like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are not bad enough, add to that stigma and discrimination, and a society that simply does not understand.
Yet Coast Mental Health staff see hope and triumph every day. Through counseling, intervention and care we see recovery. From our meal programs, clothing and supported housing we see restored dignity. And from life-skills training, education and employment programs we see a reduction of poverty.
We know that people can and do recover from mental illness and that they indeed can overcome.
We know that mental illness is simply another adversity and, with support, it too can be courageously beaten.
We are fortunate that the Courage To Come Back Awards give us a vehicle to deliver our message, to share our mission and to help us bring communities together.
And of course, most importantly, the annual Courage Awards introduce us to 6 remarkable recipients. People who deserve to be honoured and whose stories are so powerful they simply must be shared. Their stories overwhelm us with emotion, fill us with awe, and give us hope that within each of us exists that fearless hero.
To nominate someone who inspires you, visit couragetocomeback.ca.
“True heroism is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” ~Arthur Ashe