Jesse Bigelow

Jesse Bigelow shares his inspirational story drawn from his experience and recovery from mental illness. jesseAs a young teen and throughout high school he played sports, was in bands and had many girlfriends. After experimenting with many street drugs, he was misdiagnosed with drug-induced psychosis.  Jesse went clean and the psychosis didn’t stop. He was then diagnosed with schizophrenia as he graduated high school.  After a rough few years; being hospitalized and treated with different medications, he emerged stronger, more determined and wiser than ever. In 2002, Jesse began speaking publicly about his experience with mental illness. Jesse has vast experience speaking to a wide range of audiences. Students of all ages, police officers, nurses, MP’s, families of people living with mental illness and the Toronto Distress centre. He has been a peer support worker with Canadian Mental Health Association York Region since January 2007. He is dynamic and humorous when interacting with a crowd.

A list of Jesse’s experience

  • Speaks annually to U of T first year med students
  • Speaks annually to York Region high school students at the “Stomping out Stigma” conference put on by TAMI(Talking About Mental Illness) coalition
  • Speaks regularly to high school students in a presentation at CAMH called “Beyond the Cuckoo’s Nest”
  • Was one of the “Faces” recognized in the House of Commons for Mental Illness Awareness week in 2005
  • Was the subject of the 2007 documentary “Fear / Less – Opening Minds About Schizophrenia”
  • Was subject of a full page feature in the Globe and Mail called “The Son Who Vanished” in 2008
  • Was a Peer Support Worker for the HOPE (Help Overcome Psychosis Early) team with CMHA York Region from January 2007 until the summer of 2013
  • Is a Peer Support Worker for the Community Connections team with CMHA York Region from the summer of 2013 until now
  • Received the “Flag of Hope” award from the Schizophrenia Society of Canada in 2008
  • Received the “Transforming Lives” award from CAMH in 2009
  • Has been interviewed on TV shows “Medical Intelligence” twice, “Toronto Tonight” and MTV News
  • Was the subject of a feature in the Globe and Mail in 2012 called “Who better to guide the ‘walking wounded’ than someone who’s been there?”
  • Spoke to front line nurses on the psych ward at CAMH in a program called “Speaker Series”
  • Spoke to Toronto and York Regional Police
  • Presented to a diverse audience at Hart House in a conference called “Mindfest” 2013 and 2014
  • Has sat on the Client Learning Fund Committee since 2004
  • Consulted for the TV show “Cracked”
  • “Thrive Mental Health and Resilience” presentation at Queen’s University
  • MC’d the 2014 Schizophrenia Society of Ontario’s Yogathon(attended and has spoken since it’s inception in 2005)
  • Has taken part in the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario’s “Walk of Hope” since 2002
  • Prepares and serves food three times a year at Youth Without Shelter since 2005

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