CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH AMBASSADOR, AUTHOR & PRESENTER
2017/2018 FACE OF MENTAL ILLNESS
Chris Nihmey is an Ottawa-based mental health advocate, author, presenter, and teacher. He was recently selected as a 2017/2018 Face of Mental Illness for the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health. Please visit www.camimh.ca for more details on the campaign. The press conference was hosted by Michael Landberg (right) on July 13th. This important Faces Campaign will lead to October's Mental Illness Awareness Week where the five Faces (Martin Binette, Kharoll-Ann Souffrant, Brian Rose, Rachel Beazley, and myself) will make a Parliamentary visit in hopes of increasing government funding to mental health, with the goal of balancing funds between mental and physical health in Canada. This will all culminate in January of 2018 with Canada's largest mental health campaign, Bell Let's Talk. Visit letstalk.bell.ca/en/ to read more about the five Faces. Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk, attended the press conference in Toronto. She's a wonderful woman with a promising vision of providing hope to all sufferers and their loved ones, not only in Canada, but worldwide. These Canadian Ambassadors now join forces to destroy the stigma of mental illness throughout Canada and beyond, by educating, and increasing awareness and understanding of the devastating effects of illness on sufferers and their loved ones. Fear has kept so many sufferers in isolation. This must change. It begins with acceptance and compassion. Then, and only then, will a person step forward to receive the help they so rightly deserve. A huge thank you goes out to Emily Gale, Public Affairs Coordinator from Impact Public Affairs. Thank you for your compassion and acceptance of each of us. You have a passion and a love of what you do, and we are grateful for it. Thanks for your continued support and guidance.
For over a decade, Chris battled 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 through words.
In 2013, Chris released his poignant memoir Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie. The book has sold approximately 2,800 copies and is a source of hope to supporters and those suffering from mental health problems and mental illness. His illustrated picture book on the homeless and mental illness, Sally, was released in 2015. His latest, Reflections From Another Side, an anthology on mental illness, will be released in December of 2017. All three books are published with Chipmunka Publishing in the UK.
As a mental illness survivor, Chris Nihmey promotes the need to end stigma and discrimination. Through writing and speaking, he aims to further educate society on mental illness and mental 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 and compassion in our hearts. Speak up and encourage sufferers to step into the light and share their stories. That's when hope builds. That's when healing begins. Healing does happen.
A special thank you to my great friend, Sean Haughian, who nominated me for the Faces of Mental Illness campaign.
I couldn't have done it without you. Your continued support gives me hope and purpose in my journey.
Trish Turner – Ottawa, ON
Thank you for writing this book and showing people the hidden side of the mental illness struggle. This book is a must read for everyone! Chris’ opening up of his own struggles with mental illness has enlightened me beyond words. I now have a new understanding of how truly difficult life can be for someone who suffers. No one should have to go through this. It is our responsibility, as human beings, to educate ourselves, and to be supportive of family members, friends, and neighbors who suffer daily. I can’t thank you enough, Chris! May God bless you always on your journey.
Kevin Stemp, Ottawa
“I read your book “Two Sides to the Story: Living a Lie” and couldn’t put it down.”
Raymond Tremblay, Ottawa, ON
I read your beautiful “Sally” and will definitely share it. It is very well written and contains a powerful message – THE INCREDIBLE VALUE OF COMPASSION. Chris is an entertaining and prolific author. I encourage all readers to purchase his two fantastic books. If you want to learn more about mental health and homelessness, these are the books to buy. Pure gems!
Chris Topper – Ottawa, ON
“Sally” was a powerful book! I read it to her last night and we both had tears in our eyes. Wonderful book and message! I wish you success and continued healing.
Octavia La Prairie – Ottawa, ON
My daughter and I read “Sally” and we loved it! The story was beautiful and the illustrations are breathtaking. She keeps it beside the bed and always says how much she loves it. A few tears were definitely shed! We were so moved by your beautiful book.
Michelle Neville – Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, Mental Health ASSIST Lead
“Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie” was really wonderfully written! You have a gift!
Shawn Hunter – Ottawa, ON
I bought “Two Sides To The Story” and read it in just a few days. Wow, what a life you and your parents and sister have lived! You’re all amazing! I then gave the book to my mother-in-law whose son has suffered like you but is afraid to open up, even with family. She read your book and cried and laughed and smiled. I have never bought a book before and enjoyed it so much, and then given it to someone else. You’re so strong for writing it, and sharing your story, and helping not only people who walk in your shoes, but their families and friends. All this to say … thank you, Chris!
Sean Haughian – Ottawa, ON
I want to say thank you for being so brave to share your story, “Two Sides To The Story”. So many people will be touched and benefit from hearing your story. Reading about your giving … inspired me even more. I hope you can give me the chance to give to you. I find it inspiring that even though you have had so much difficulty with things, your attitude and positive outlook on life has always shone through.
Sandy Mussio – Belleville, ON
When I started “Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie”, I couldn’t put it down. What an amazing, incredibly gut-wrenching story it is. I can only imagine what a hard, long and difficult journey this has been for you, but I can’t tell you how proud I am that you had the courage and strength to tell your story and try to change the stigma around mental illness. Every journey begins with one small step and I wish you nothing but success. I will recommend this book to everyone I know, and if it helps one person to seek the help they need or change their attitude about mental illness, your book will have been a success.
Chantal Robichaud – Montréal, QC
Less than 19 hours, minus 8 hours of sleep and an hour or two of getting the kids ready for school and chores around the house. That’s how long it took me to read “Two Sides To The Story”. I was meant to catch-up on household things, but somehow your book called to me … so much for all that “catch-up” I was hoping to accomplish! I cannot even begin to try and capture what your book has meant to me.
Tanya Curtis – Ottawa, ON
“Two Sides To The Story: Living A Lie” has been an engrossing read; your journey is a testament to all that is truly important in each person’s story and how important faith, family, friends and proper health care are so important to each and every one of us. I know that you will make a positive difference in the lives of anyone who is suffering. Your family – your sister, mother, and father are the best example of true love, compassion, and empathy that I have read about.
Sam Berns – Ottawa, ON
I just finished reading “Two Sides To The Story”. I want to tell you I loved it, I loved every page of it. It’s so well written and it’s honest and it’s very touching. It was like every page was competing to get into the story.