Glenda O’Hara is the chair of the Client Advisory Council at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care Centre and as chair, she also holds a seat at the table of The Royal’s board of trustees. Glenda sits on many committees at The Royal including the Quality Committee of the Board and the Client & Family Centred Care committee. After spending over 25 years in the fields of finance and accounting – mainly for non-profit organizations – Glenda was diagnosed with mental illness and several years ago, became a patient of the forensic program at The Royal. It was during her recovery that Glenda discovered her artistic side and became a published poet and eventually became the editor of the council’s newsletter, The Client’s Voice. Besides volunteering at The Royal with support and education groups, a facilitator, with the Client Advisory Council, and at the Royal Ottawa Place long-term care facility, Glenda also supports the arts by volunteering at Centrepointe Theatre and the Great Canadian Theatre Company. She has shared her recovery story at peer support groups and women’s conferences in Calgary and Ottawa. Glenda shares her story with group members, staff, students and the public with the hope of reducing the double stigma of living with a mental illness and being a forensic client.
Sanjay Sharma is a strong advocate within the Ottawa mental health network. He spent over 20 years in the high tech industry as a software designer before experiencing an acute episode of mental illness. Having successfully recovered from this difficult event, Sanjay speaks publicly about his mental health journey in an effort to break the stigma and help others in their recovery. Sanjay is currently the vice chair of Client Advisory Council at The Royal and volunteers as a peer supporter at Psychiatric Survivors Ottawa and The John Howard Society. He has also developed a monthly mental health cafe, in partnership with Art For Mental Health, to help university and college students understand mental illness. Through the sharing of personal struggles and journeys, it is Sanjay’s firm belief that we can help society become more compassionate and empathetic to those who suffer mental illness.
Alexis Milne is a volunteer in the Women’s Resource Centre where she co-facilitates Journaling and WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). She is a member of the Client Advisory Council and attends various committees as a voice for the clients. Alexis is the proud editor of The Client’s Voice, a newsletter for clients to share their stories of recovery and their fantastic artistic abilities. She believes this newsletter is a tool to open the conversation and shed some light on the stigma of mental illness. The clients have a voice.
Tariq Iqbal is a strong advocate at The Royal. He had a 26-year career in healthcare as a physician. As a member of the Client Advisory Council, he is a voice for clients and families suffering from mental illness. He represents clients on various committees at The Royal, including the Client & Family Centred Care (CFCC) committee, Integrated Ethics Committee (IEC), and Workplace Violence Prevention Committee. He also volunteers at The Royal’s community resource library, helping clients with mental illness and distributing information on the units regarding family support programs for clients and families. Tariq is a supporter of the Canadian Women Foundation and advocates for initiatives that fight poverty and violence against women. As Canadians become more educated and accepting about mental illness, Tariq believes that sharing his story will help give hope to people with mental illness.
Kevin Patrick is a passionate advocate in the service of mental health. He worked for 20 years as an executive in high tech, specializing in business development, marketing and strategic planning. In his later work years, his mental health shifted – he kept quiet and struggled in silence, a self-imposed stigma, not telling a soul. Eventually, it took a toll on him and he ended up in the hospital, losing everything he was protecting. Kevin’s own lived experience spans 12 years, over 60 spiritual experiences, nine admissions to hospital, four major medication changes and hearing voices research. After a long journey, he opens up and tells his story in the hopes of inspiring others to live a joyful and meaningful life. Kevin loves to make a positive impact in mental health. To that end, he is a member of the Client Advisory Council at The Royal, treasurer on the board of directors for Psychiatric Survivors of Ottawa, and a spokesperson for Ancoura, an organization that provides affordable housing and a supportive community for those with mental health challenges.
Laurean Reynolds welcomes clients in the Shirley E. Greenberg Resource Centre for Women, where she provides information about various workshops and programs. She is also part of a group of women who meet each week at The Royal to continue their wellness journey and provide support for each other. She also volunteers outside The Royal with various not-for-profit organizations. Laurean was employed for more than 40 years in the legal profession as a legal secretary/assistant/bookkeeper, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Her last hospitalization was at The Royal for several months and she received care and support for her lifetime mental illnesses, which are still a work in progress. Laurean is a strong advocate for seniors who have mental illness and wishes to give back even more than she received.
Afshin Shayanpour is a member of The Royal’s Client Advisory Council and strives to put clients (patients) front and centre in his involvement with the council. He is involved in committee work and focuses on how changes in mental health care affect clients. During several battles with his own mental health, his lived experience has taught him important knowledge that he shares publicly, with the hope that society will treat those struck by poor mental health with understanding, empathy and fairness. Through his advocacy for mental health care, he hopes that he can bring positive change.
Helen Thai joined the Client Advisory Council in 2019 and is committed to using her own experience of mental illness to inform her work and practice. She holds a Bachelor in Commerce from Carleton University and spent four years working at the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Following the completion of intensive treatment, Helen has resigned from her job in order to pursue a career in clinical psychology. In addition to serving on the council, Helen is currently working in the Schizophrenia & Recovery program at The Royal as a psychology student. She will be starting her yoga teacher training next year and hopes to foster a more holistic approach to care by unifying mind, body and spirit. Helen believes that recovery is a partnership between patient and practitioner that requires active collaboration, commitment and compassion. Helen is grateful to be a member of the council and is honoured to be representing clients of The Royal.
Jackie Desrochers is the Manager of Client & Family Relations at The Royal. She is dedicated to ensuring that the client and family voice is welcomed, valued and seen as an essential piece in the development and review of all services at The Royal. She has a Masters in Social Work and has worked as a counsellor in individual, couple and group therapy. She has also dabbled in community development. Jackie started her career in recreation working with people with special needs and coming from diverse backgrounds. Jackie seeks and trusts the input of clients and families (our consumers) in her position at The Royal and is confident that this approach has always served her well.