Open the Door: Sparking the Conversation and Removing the Stigma Around Mental Health

Andrea Paquette

Tuesday, September 12th
7:00 pm
Senior School Auditorium
As parents, we spend time encouraging our kids on everything from academics and athletics. We know the importance of sleep, nutrition and reduced screen time, but how many of us have discussed mental wellbeing with our children? One in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Speaker Andrea Paquette opens up the dialogue by sharing her own personal story of struggle and triumph since her bipolar disorder diagnosis in 2005. An award-winning mental health activist, speaker and spokesperson for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, Paquette encourages acceptance of self and others by creating awareness of various stigmas. She will give practical, take home advice on how to open the discussion on mental health in your own family and encourage respect and resilience in our school community at large.


Andrea Paquette, AKA Bipolar Babe Founder & President, Stigma-Free Society
Professional Speaker, Author & Advocate Stigma-Free Zone Co-Founder

Andrea offers presentations to schools and the community on the topic of stigma with a focus on mental health. The purpose of her presentation is to create awareness and understanding of various stigmas, while encouraging people to be accepting of themselves and others. She shares her personal story of struggle and triumph since her bipolar disorder diagnosis in 2005, and she is very candid, honest and open in her approach. Andrea delivers a similar presentation to parents that students receive in the schools, which showcases mental illness stigma, inspirational stories of stigma fighters who have overcome great challenges in their lives, strategies on mental wellness, reaching out for help and the awareness of mental health resources in Vancouver. The goal of Andrea’s work is to truly open up the conversation about mental health and stigma and to encourage parents to contribute to a Stigma-Free culture by supporting the Stigma-Free Zone movement, which aims to create awareness, understanding and acceptance among students and their families.

Andrea Paquette is the President and Founder of the Stigma-Free Society, formerly the Bipolar Disorder Society of British Columbia (BDSBC). She created the Bipolar Babe Project in 2009, and thereafter, an impacting website that offered people a place to connect and find valuable mental health information. The Bipolar Babe Project evolved into the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC in 2010, with the collaboration of seven dedicated Board of Directors. The Charity has been renamed as the Stigma-Free Society www.stigmafreezone.com and offers six programs on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland under the Stigma-Free Zone banner. Their service delivery includes a number of mental health peer support groups on Vancouver Island and presentation programs for both youth and adults across British Columbia.

She is an award winning mental health activist, educator, facilitator, speaker and published author. In seven years, Andrea has presented her story at over 300 schools, workplaces, community organizations and events, reaching over 15,000 people. Andrea is the 2015 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient in the category of Mental Health given by Coast Mental Health, the 2013 Mel Cooper Citizen of the Year in Victoria, BC, and she is also the Winner of the 2013 Award for Youth Mentorship from the National Council for Behavioral Health, Washington, D.C. Andrea is recognized as the winner for Vancouver Island's Business and Community Award - 2015 Top 20 Under 40 Award. Andrea has also been named as an official spokesperson for the 2016 Faces of Mental Illness Campaign for the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH). She has been recently named as a 2017 YWCA Woman of Distinction nominee for Metro Vancouver and Andrea has been featured on a Bell Let’s Talk Public Service Announcement aired nationally and multiple media outlets that showcase her personal story. Andrea is honored to bring her story into the schools to share candidly about her mental health journey with young students and continues to bring her message of hope to the larger community.

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Founded in 1930, St. George's School is a world-class boys' university preparatory school, offering a day program in Grades 1-12 and an Urban Boarding program in Grades 8-12. With 1160 students, 110 of whom are boarders from over 20 countries worldwide, St. George’s School is a vibrant community committed to authentic learning.
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