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. He was just awarded the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre 2019 Personal Leader for Mental Health Inspiration Award for all of his hard work and dedication in the mental health field over the last many years. Alongside this special recognition, he received an Ottawa Catholic School Board 2019 Director of Education Commendation Award for his many years of teaching, and his extensive work advocating on mental health and wellness in schools and beyond. In 2018, he had the honour of receiving Ottawa's 2018-2019 Mayor's City Builder Award for his extensive work in mental health in Canada and beyond. In 2017, Chris was selected as a 2017/18 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 and 2019, Canada's largest mental health campaign, Bell Let's Talk, continued to shatter records. Chris continues to be an advocate for Bell in their goal of reaching out to destroy stigma and to urge sufferers to speak up early and find the help they need. As he always says, "Prevention is early intervention." As a Canadian Ambassador, he continues to educate, instill change, and increase 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. With unconditional love, encouragement, and support from his Mom and Dad, Chris began to put together a memoir of his difficult journey from darkness to light. With every page, purpose and meaning began 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

ROMHC Inspiration Award

CTV Toronto Bell Let’s Talk Interview

Meet Chris Nihmey
Never Lose Hope

Mayor’s City Builder Award

CAMIMH - Bell Let's Talk