Two inspiring women will share their experiences with mental health and the journey that brought them to where they are today, including the community and methods they lean on to stay well. Blake and Amy share a passion for elevating awareness of mental health in their communities, and through their unique ways have been challenging the social stigma that often accompanies mental health conversations. Following the story sharing, join for some mix and mingling to forge new connections and expand your community and perspective. Both speakers will be available to answer questions following their presentations and art work from the We All Believe in you photo journalism project will be on display.
More about the speakers:
Blake Loates is an Edmonton-based mental health awareness advocate using her skills and voice as a
portrait photographer and former psychiatric nurse to change the narrative around society’s
understanding of mental health.
Blake was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety at age 14 and years later and then bipolar II
disorder at age 20. At the time of her diagnosis, she struggled to find people willing to talk openly about
their experience and knew something needed to change. Over the last few years, Blake has increasingly
become an active voice in the community, raising awareness and opening the conversation around
mental health with her initiative We All Believe in You. Launched in early 2016, We All Believe in You is a
community-driven organization focused around shifting the public response to mental health and
connecting those struggling with the illness to resources.
Amy Willans is the author of Haunted by Blue, published in 2014 by The Rasp and the Wine. Her written work has been published in The Globe and Mail, Standing Together: Women Speak Out about Violence and Abuse(Brindle and Glass, 2005); Transitionmagazine, published by the Canadian Mental Health Association, and in various journals and anthologies. She is a past participant of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate program at the University of Iowa. Willans is an award-winning mental health advocate and has done a wide range of public speaking, and has been a featured guest on CBC radio, Bell Media and Global news, on topics of stigma, recovery, and wellness.