Men’s Breakfast for Mental Health – June 11, 2019

Men account for 4 out of 5 deaths by suicide in Canada.

This is a staggering statistic. How many times have you heard the expression “be a man”, or “man up”? In today’s society, men are socialized to believe that showing emotion and expressing feelings is a “feminine” thing to do. That crying or reaching out for help means a loss of masculinity. We’re here to break that barrier, to tell everyone that reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness. Which is why for the past ten years, we’ve hosted a Men’s Breakfast for Mental Health to encourage men to feel more comfortable speaking about their mental health.


For people who suffer every day in silence I offer hope that they can live a full life one day with hard work.

– Darcy Patrick


Darcy Patrick, an incredibly talented and inspiring author, public speaker, and mental health advocate, kicked off the event by recalling his own struggles with depression suicidal thoughts, and how he overcame all of it only to come out even stronger. Darcy’s book, titled “Why I Run”, encourages those who are struggling with mental illness to seek help and know that they do not have to suffer in silence like he did. Darcy has dedicated his life to ending the stigma surrounding depression and other mental illnesses.


Only with open conversation can we kill the stigma behind depression, lets start talking and kill it together!

– Darcy Patrick


Up next was John Vereecke, co-founder and director of Habitude – a residential inpatient program aimed at helping individuals and their families recover from substance abuse, PTS/PTSD, and other mental health issues. But John’s story began very differently. At one point in his life, John became addicted to drugs and alcohol and was stuck in a downward spiral. He credits his wife, Tammy, for helping with his recovery.





Left: Tammy accepts a ConvoPlate from Brian Hansell.





One of the most troubling symptoms of mental illness is no symptoms at all. Too often, mental illness can go unnoticed, especially in men who feel they need to withhold their emotions. This was exactly the case with Al Duncan, a former teacher of Brian Hansell’s who kept his struggles with mental illness to himself. “All those years I had no idea”, said Brian, who never once suspected one of his favourite teachers was battling mental illness on the inside.


Evidence suggests that men are significantly less likely to use mental health services in response to a mental health issue in comparison with women.

– Psychology Today


Andy Fantuz, former CFL wide receiver for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger Cats, followed Al. Andy recalled the emotional turmoil he faced during and following his recovery from two traumatic concussions.


It’s a scary feeling and it’s something that you can never really explain properly until you’ve experienced one.

When your brain is injured, you really don’t feel like yourself and it’s a totally different experience than having another part of your body injured.

Fantuz noted  the link between concussions and mental disorders, recalling being in a dark place for a while following his head injuries. Thank you Andy for shedding light on this issue and encouraging men who might be experiencing a similar situation to seek help, knowing they are not alone.


Last, but certainly not least, was Mary Ann Baynton. Mary Ann proudly serves as the Program Director for Workplace Strategies for Mental Health which develops and provides free tools and resources for anyone who wishes to prevent, manage or improve psychological health and safety at work. She devoted her time at this event to shed light on workplace wellness strategies, allowing our guests to understand and recognize the signs of interpersonal issues, and educating them on effective strategies to resolve these issues so they can feel empowered and in charge of their mental health.


We would like to extend a huge than you to Darcy, John, Al, Andy, and Mary Ann for sharing their knowledge and lived experience with our guests, as well as for taking the lead on their own #ConvoPlate. Together we can all take small steps to change the way we speak about our mental health.


Written by Kayleigh Clapperton

Social Media and Project Coordinator

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