CHRIS NIHMEY

CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH AMBASSADOR, AUTHOR & PRESENTER  

2017/2018 FACE OF MENTAL ILLNESS

Chris_Nihmey Bio Faces

"I found my purpose beyond illness. That's when transformation began and healing happened. Whether you suffer or support a loved one, I want to help you find your purpose. It all begins with hope and positive change." 

Chris Nihmey is an Ottawa-based mental health and wellness advocate, author, motivational speaker, and teacher. This summer, he had the honour of being the recipient of Ottawa's 2018-2019 Mayor's City Builder Award for his extensive work in the field of mental health and wellness in Canada and beyond. Last year, he was selected as a 2017/2018 Face of Mental Illness for the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (www.camimh.ca). This important Faces Campaign included October's Mental Illness Awareness Week, as well a Parliamentary visit to discuss parity between mental and physical health in Canada, balancing government funding for both. In January of 2018, Canada's largest mental health campaign, Bell Let's Talk, continued to shatter records. Chris spoke with CTV news to share his story and message of hope, resilience and healing. As a Canadian Ambassador, he joins forces to destroy the stigma of mental illness throughout Canada and beyond, by educating, instilling change, and increasing awareness and understanding of the devastating effects of illness on sufferers and their loved ones.

It was in 2001 that Chris’ life changed forever. “You have Bipolar Disorder”. Shame, fear, and anxiety would emerge, and over the next decade, he would battle for his life against three life-debilitating illnesses: Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Knowing the extreme dangers of stigma in society, he made a decision to hide his illnesses, living only one side of his life in front of others. He hid behind an unexpected ally, writing, and found hope and healing through words. Purpose and meaning would begin to surface. Writing would become the driving force in his healing, motivating him to implement a plethora of innovative mental strategies and techniques that would assist him in regaining a life once lost. Healing does happen, but we must “want” to heal, otherwise we remain frozen in our tracks.

In 2013, Chris released his poignant memoir Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie. This book has now sold approximately 4000 copies and is a source of hope and inspiration for sufferers and supporters. His illustrated picture book on the homeless and mental illness, Sally, was released in 2015, a story of empathy, compassion, and acceptance. His latest, Reflections From Another Side: Mental Illness Survivors and Advocates Unite to Write, an anthology of writings by sufferers and their advocates, will be released in the fall of 2018. All three books are published with Chipmunka Publishing in the UK.

As a mental illness survivor, Chris speaks about and highlights the necessity of ending stigma and discrimination. Through writing and speaking, he aims to further educate society on mental illness and wellness, and the dangerous effects that stigma has on both sufferers and their families. Fighting stigma also depends on you. We are all in the fight to increase acceptance of, and compassion for sufferers. Speak up and encourage sufferers to step into the light "early" in their battles and share their stories. That's when hope builds. That's when healing begins. It does happen. Chris has proven this.

"We are indebted to you Chris Nihmey for your ongoing contributions on our OCSB Mental Health journey. Sincere gratitude for your leadership in OCSB and beyond."
 
Denise Andre, OCSB Director, 2018

Meet Chris Nihmey
Never Lose Hope

Mayor’s City Builder Award

Bell Let's Talk

Huffington Post Canada

CBC News Toronto