Michèle is the Chair of the Family Advisory Council. Active in the Council since 2018, Michèle brings substantial family experience from her work as President of the Ottawa Network for Borderline Personality Disorder and as Family Connections Course Leader since 2014. She is also a devoted family caregiver with lived experience supporting loved ones through their recovery from mental health conditions. Michèle’s lived experiences inspired her to join the FAC to strengthen and augment the impact of family voices at The Royal.
As Chair, Michèle mobilizes Council and family advisor strengths to represent the collective voice of families served by The Royal. She leads the Council in advocating, advising, and meaningfully engaging with The Royal and other community partners to shape policy, programs, research and practices, as well as participate in initiatives that support and strengthen families and improve the care of loved ones, the client, and family experiences across The Royal campuses.
A champion of The Royal’s vision of a “hospital without walls,” Michèle is committed to facilitate its work with community leaders and partners in the design and co-creation of models of care that not only meet family and loved ones “where they are at” but also better support them through the life span of their needs: from early identification through resolution and reintegration into community life.
Michèle draws upon 30 plus years’ experience as an Executive and Executive Advisor to public sector organizations in the areas of Service and Business Innovation, with specific expertise in
Strategy and Planning, Program and Project Management and Change Leadership. Currently, she is completing her Master’s in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. As a leader, Michèle is committed to ethical, values-based and mindful leadership.
Mohammad is an award-winning neuroscientist and (among other awards and accomplishments) the recipient of the 2014 Graduate Student Research Award from The Royal’s Institute for Mental Health Research. He has acquired research experience in molecular psychiatry, analgesic properties of cannabinoids, pain perception, addiction, and binge eating.
On a personal level, the experience of mental illness by family and friends has motivated Mohammad to familiarize himself with different aspects of mental illness and how it can be managed. Accordingly, he became a voracious reader on different psychological interventions including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), and existential psychotherapy.
He has been very involved in knowledge translation and advocacy for mental health through organizing conferences (executive board member of the Young Researchers annual conferences), blog writing (The Canadian Biomarker Integration Network for Depression), and public speaking (Student Alliance for Mental Health).
Mohammad is extremely passionate about furthering his understanding of how mental health care is delivered, what the potential areas of growth are and how he can make a positive impact on this process.
Like most people involved with volunteer groups, Nancy's interest and concerns about mental health issues relate to experiences of family and friends. She has a B.Sc and has worked in 5 teaching hospitals (pediatric and adult, medical/technical/ clinical/research) in Canada and Saudi Arabia, learning that it's much easier to be inside a white lab coat as part of a team, than on the outside with not always answerable questions.
She also spent many years as a volunteer advocate in the Ontario school system for special education supports and services during times upheaval and budget cuts. Through participation on various statutory committees, she recognized the importance of working from within a large complex organization, learning "how it works", balancing expectations, agendas, changing political priorities, and fiscal limitations.
As a parent, Nancy understands the confusion, frustration and stress of trying to navigate shifting silos which overlap wide ranges of educational, social, medical and mental health care and services. Friends and families often feel powerless and judged by those who say "you know your loved one best" but undervalue their opinions. The "24/7 on-call " chronic stress of living with, or being personally responsible for, people who need mental health support/ care often feels like some form of PTSD which outsiders cannot understand.
Through these varied experiences, Nancy’s life lessons include that friends and family (“framily”) make the best decisions they can at the time with the information they have available; the value of breaking down overwhelming problems into manageable details and of new eyes looking at old problems from the bottom up; and thinking ahead, often as "Devil's Advocate", and trying to see through other perspectives.
Nancy represents the Family Advisory Council on the Royal’s Ethics/Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and Medication Reconciliation Committees.
Pari Johnston has been involved at The Royal since November 2018 following her son’s experience in the youth in-patient program and McHugh Education Centre. She joined the Family Advisory Council in September 2019 and leads strategic communications.
She serves on the Royal’s Client and Family Centred Care Committee, the Program Development and Quality Improvement Committees of the Mood and Anxiety Program, and various Committees of the Institute for Mental Health Research. Pari is also a team member for the new research project at The Royal funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to build a framework for supporting meaningful family caregiver engagement in mental health care and research.
A Canadian higher education and research leader, Pari served in increasingly senior roles at Universities Canada over the past 20 years, most recently as Vice President Policy and Public Affairs from 2016-19. She was a founding Board member from 2016-19 of The Conversation Canada, a national digital media organization for academic journalism.
Pari is passionate about connecting the dots between the mental health and Autism worlds and ensuring Autistic youth and young adults live well and thrive. She is on the National Advisory Committee for the CAMH and York University-led project to develop the first mental health literacy guide for Autistic Canadians. She is also leading a new effort in Ottawa to develop innovative and affordable independent housing solutions for young Autistic adults. She looks after her own mental health through yoga, bike rides, cross-country skiing and quality time with good friends and family.
Cynthia has been a volunteer at the Royal since 2007, devoting her time and energy to supporting the Family Advisory Council as Chair for many years, now serving as Secretary. She has represented families on various community and hospital committees and has provided an advisory voice for the provincial government and national agencies. She is the lead proponent for a new research project at The Royal funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to build a framework for supporting meaningful family caregiver engagement in mental health care and research.
She is presently the Chair of the Ontario Family Caregivers’ Advisory Network (OFCAN), A provincial organization that connects groups in Ontario who support family caregivers of people with mental health and addiction issues. Cynthia was a founding member of Parents’ Lifelines of Eastern Ontario (PLEO). She has over 15 years of experience in the delivery of programs to family members of individuals with serious mental illness and was a valued employee of the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario for 12 years.
May 2015 she was appointed to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council. Cynthia was a recipient of the YMCA-YWCA Ottawa Women of Distinction Award in May 2011 and in 2005 she received the Inspiration Award presented by the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in recognition of individuals who have served as models of hope and inspiration to others.
Juliet Haynes is the Family Engagement and Experience Coordinator at The Royal and Vice-Chair of the Family Advisory Council. Prior to this, she served as The Royal’s Family Support Program Coordinator where she devoted her energy to improving families’ access to support through community partnerships and telemedicine.
Juliet has over 12 years’ experience at The Royal working with diverse populations in individual, family and group settings in the Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program, the Mood Program, the Crisis Unit, as well as providing outreach to the broader community.
She is the Vice-President of the Ottawa Network for Borderline Personality Disorders where she has volunteered as a Family Connections Course Leader since 2015. Juliet is a trained Family WRAP Facilitator, Powerful Tools for Families Course Leader and has co-facilitated the NAMI Family to Family Education Program. Juliet has over 15 years’ experience as a trained family and peer supporter in mental health and addictions and violence against women.
In all that she does, Juliet aims to promote a culture that empowers families and advances Client and Family Centered Care. Juliet is an ally to those with mental health issues and their families, understanding that where health care professionals may change over time, clients’ families are the one constant along their mental health journey. Juliet has her Master’s in social work from Carleton University.