A Mission. A Grant. An Opportunity.


by Julie H.

Is Randomness a literary genre? Because I may be a specialist in miscellany.  Here are some of the deliverables I have produced:

  • Newsletters for five-star hotels, coffee chains and supermarkets
  • A travel guide for a war zone
  • Greeting cards, eulogies and obituaries
  • News releases announcing things I suspected would never come to pass
  • Speeches for blowhards
  • Sales pitches for widgets (the pre-computing kind) 

In addition, I have “just looked at” college application essays. I’ve even tried my hand at poetry (it was not very good).

Over the years, I have written with enthusiasm about things that were important to someone else but meaningless to me.

At this point, I should probably retire, write fiction, or short stories or a memoir. But who can resist the opportunity when it comes knocking to change the world for the better?

Related to someone with mental illness, I handle communications for the family support group at the Douglas Mental Health Institute. My primary message is that there is a distinction between having a mental illness and being mentally ill. After all, no one is diabetes. Recovery from mental illness is possible and commonplace.

The Canadian government has wisely acknowledged that the mental health system is failing young people in particular. In fact, an estimated 75% of youth aged 16-25 who need help never receive treatment. These are the kids you see on the street and in the newspapers. To remedy this, the CIHR, Canada’s federal funding agency for health research, has awarded a large grant to a group affiliated with the Douglas. The mandate is nothing less than the complete transformation within five years of care for youth with mental illness.

This new system promises to place youth with mental illness and their families — not just policy makers, researchers and health care professionals — “in the driver’s seat of change”. For the first time, what I call the power of love — not just therapy and medication — will be tapped as a tool of recovery.

Here’s my plan: for digital content, I’ll need to provide families with the information, support and practical advice to come out of isolation and get strong. Stigma immeasurably compounds the suffering of all involved.

For community management:  I need to learn how to best connect family support groups from 12 test sites across Canada, from New Brunswick to the Northwest Territories. I’ll need a system for private, organizational communications as well as one for public dialogue and information. I’ll also need to gather research data.

I’m thinking of starting with an e-newsletter. At least this time it won’t be random.

6 thoughts on “A Mission. A Grant. An Opportunity.

  1. I like the way you begin your article with your writing experience. You get to know how diverse your professional background is right from the beginning. I also enjoy your parachute-in style of story-telling.


  2. Julie, it was interesting to know a bit more about your background jobs, and I see nothing wrong with a nonlinear path. Linear journeys can be very very boring to some people. If you need help on email marketing best practices I can help you, I will send you a doc on that. What a beautiful cause to bring awareness on mental illness. I would like to help that special cause. Can I? Thank your for the blog!


  3. What a touching article. I think most families are touched in one way or another by mental illness (whether we admit it or not). This goes to show how important each word is when we are communicating. You’re absolutely right, no one IS mentally ill. People HAVE mental illness, which can be treated. A single word change can make all the difference.


  4. Wow, you’re on a mission and I love it! You have applications in mind with every discussion and question. And your blog post has told us the backstory and drawn sketches of the future. I love how you’ve tied your digital communicative learning to the task at hand. I hope we’re able to help!!


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