Lieutenant-General, the Honourable Roméo Dallaire accepts Let’s Keep Talking’s Outstanding Activist award in front of sold out crowd

Dartmouth, NS – The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia was pleased to host their sold out 4th annual Let’s Keep Talking on May 3 at the Spatz Theatre in Halifax during Mental Health Week.   This year’s keynote speaker was Lieutenant-General, the Honourable Roméo Dallaire on General Dallaire, well known for his advocacy of the issue on behalf of veterans struggling with PTSD.

After the success of its inaugural event, Let’s Keep Talking for Clara’s Big Ride in 2014, the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia has continued the tradition, calling on notable Canadian mental health advocates to keep the conversation going.  Last year’s event featured Canadian icon and author, Margaret Trudeau, who spoke about living with bipolar disorder.

The event was emceed by MHFNS Board of Trustees member and TSN reporter, Paul Hollingsworth and featured the first-voice experience of noted photographer Nigel Beck, who opened up to the audience about his battle with depression, chronicled by a series of self portraits.

Let’s Keep Talking honoured five Nova Scotians who have impacted the mental health community in our province.  Outstanding Youth, Amanda Higgins; Outstanding Senior, Jim Malone; Outstanding Healthcare Provider, Nicole Robinson;  Outstanding Individual, Stephanie Reidy; and Outstanding Caregiver, Sheila Morrison  were honoured for their efforts to spread mental health awareness and eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness.

“We are so excited to have brought General Dallaire into this very important discussion and celebration of outstanding individuals,” says Starr Dobson, President & CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.  “It was an amazing opportunity for deserving Nova Scotians to share the stage with a Canadian who is truly dedicated to changing the way people think.”  

Each award winner spoke poignantly about the importance of opening up a conversation around mental health in effort to eradicate the stigma that surrounds mental illness and addiction. 

“Never be afraid to take care of your mental health.  Self care is not selfish,” said Jim Malone, recipient of the Outstanding Senior Award.  “It’s okay to not be okay.”

Madame Sophie Gregoire Trudeau sent her congratulations to the award winners through a short video prepared by her office.  In it, she emphasized the importance of getting to a point where there is no more stigma associated with mental illness.  

General Dallaire spoke candidly to the audience about his battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a direct result of his mission in Rwanda.  He underlined about how difficult it can be to diagnose and accept a mental illness.

“They [those affected by mental illness] feel safe when they speak, but first they must have the chance.  If we provide more peer support by talking to someone who is in crisis and listen without asking questions, we could be preventing suicide,” said General Dallaire.  “One suicide committed by someone who is [mentally] injured is too many.”

General Dallaire received a standing ovation after accepting the Let’s Keep Talking Outstanding Activist award on stage, presented to him by Kevin Fournier, Director of Sales - Nova Scotia and PEI, Bell Aliant. 

The event raised funds for mental health programs and services across the province and was made possible by the generous support of sponsors NorthWest Healthcare Properties, Bell Aliant, Emera, Salon Resource Group and The Way Foundation.