It was a morning to open one’s mind and, in doing so, perhaps better understand it, complexities and all.
More than 650 business leaders came together Tuesday at the EY Centre to support The Royal Ottawa Foundation’s Leaders For Mental Health Breakfast.
Canadian sports journalist Ian Mendes was back to host the major fundraiser, which reverted to its usual in-person format following two pandemic years of being held virtually.
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Mendes shared with the room his passion for the cause. “I love talking about sports …but I appreciate doing this more than anything sports-related because these are the conversations that really matter.
“These are the things that make a difference in our community.”
The breakfast shared inspiring stories from patients at The Royal, as well as details about some of the ground-breaking research being done by scientists to treat mental illness, including depression and suicide risk.
“I think when somebody dies by suicide we’re always left with questions,” said Mendes. “What could we have done? Why did this happen? We need to understand that it’s time for a new and better way to treat mental health.
“The brain is a fascinating organ, isn’t it, and I think we’re just scratching the surface of what we know about the brain,” continued Mendes, who recommended that the room treat the information presented at the breakfast like a high school biology class. “You’re going to learn something after all of this.”
Speaking on behalf of lead sponsor TechInsights was chief technology officer Jason Abt. He expressed how proud the Ottawa-based technology company was to support the cause. “A little more than four years ago we lost one of our colleagues to suicide,” Abt told an audience that included Janice Charette, clerk of the Privy Council Office. “It was an eye opener for so many of us. None of us, none of us, really picked up on any signs.”
The suicide, he added, “left us wondering what else could have been done. Of course, we can’t go back in the past but we can certainly help for the future,” said Abt of TechInsights’ multi-year commitment to support The Royal.
The Royal Ottawa Foundation reported that more than $400,000 was raised from the breakfast for life-saving mental health research, with more donations still coming in.