Jesse works as a Peer Support Specialist for an inner city health clinic in downtown Toronto. Jesse Bigelow shares his inspirational story drawn from his experience and recovery from mental illness. As 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.

Jesse’s experience 
Biographical Information

Peer Support Worker for the HOPE (Help Overcome Psychosis Early) team with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) York Region from January 2007 until the summer of 2013.
Peer Support Worker for the Community Connections team with CMHA York Region from the summer of 2013 until March of 2015.

Public Speaking
Hole Out for Hope charity golf tournament for the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO) in the summer of 2015.
Annual Education Session of the Consent and Capacity Board.
Diverse audience at Hart House for a conference called “Mindfest” in 2013 and 2014.
“Thrive Mental Health and Resilience” presentation at Queen’s University.
University of Toronto first year medical students annually.
York Region high school students at the “Stomping out Stigma” conference put on by the TAMI (Talking About Mental Illness) coalition annually.
Regularly to high school students in a presentation at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) called “Beyond the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
Front line psychiatric nurses at CAMH in a program called “Speaker Series”.
Toronto and York Regional Police.
350 guests at the Iris Ball black tie fundraising gala for the SSO.
International Anti-Stigma conference in Kingston, Ontario.
University women’s group in Oakville, Ontario.
Successful presentation to the Provincial Government Employee Donation Program (Federated Health Charities) to include SSO on the list of approved charities.
University of Toronto nursing students twice.
Panel discussion of “Unbreakable Minds” at the Workman Theatre’s “Rendezvous with Madness” film festival.
Ontario Working Group on Early Intervention in Psychosis at the Sheraton Centre.
Geriatric personal care support workers twice.
Toronto Chapter of the SSO at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church.
Spokesperson for SSO’s 2005 Walk of Hope and charity golf tournament.
Family members at the Halton Region chapter of SSO.
High school students at Danforth Technical School twice.
Ryerson University first year nursing students.
Panel at the Hamilton Region chapter of the SSO.
Provincial staff of the SSO.
Marc Santi 2006 Valentine Dance on behalf of the SSO.
Fourth Annual Tribute Luncheon for the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.
Public Forum in Brampton, Ontario hosted by the SSO.
Conference of sale representatives and nurses sponsored by Eli Lilly at Taboo resort in Muskoka, Ontario.

Consulted for the television show “Cracked”.
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?”
Interviewed on television shows “Medical Intelligence” twice, “Toronto Tonight” and MTV News.
Subject of a full page feature in the Globe and Mail called “The Son Who Vanished” in 2008.
Subject of the 2007 documentary “Fear / Less – Opening Minds About Schizophrenia”.

“Transforming Lives” award from CAMH in 2009.
“Flag of Hope” award from the Schizophrenia Society of Canada in 2008.
One of the “Faces” recognized in the House of Commons for Mental Illness Awareness Week in 2005.

Conflict Resolution.
Emergency First Aid.
Accessible Customer Service.
ASIST (suicide training).
CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
Welcoming Diversity.
Case Note Writing.
CRMS (client record management system).
Community Worker Safety Strategies.
Empowerment (five sessions).
Falls Prevention Training.
Worker Health and Safety Awareness.
Introduction to Harm Reduction.
LGBT Diversity Training.
Motivational Interviewing.
Effective Workplace Communication.
OCAN (Ontario Common Assessment of Need).
Introduction to Outlook, Word, Excel PPT.
Marijuana Strategies for Youth.
Proton Training (handling food).
WHMIS (workplace safety).
Workplace Mental Health Awareness.
Workplace Violence Prevention.

 Volunteer Work
Master of Ceremonies for the 2014 SSO Yogathon (attended and have spoken since its inception in 2005).
Have prepared and served food three times a year at Youth Without Shelter since 2005.
Client Learning Fund Committee at CAMH since 2004.
SSO “Walk of Hope” since 2002.
Member of the “Youth Awareness Project” developing a website and Public Service Announcement for the SSO. Volunteered at SSO once a week stuffing envelopes.

Have practiced yoga regularly since 2011.
Taught karate-do to children at the Scarborough YMCA for five years (2007-2011).
Practiced karate-do for nine years (2002-2011), achieving a brown belt.
Regular attendance at Church.

Starts With Me