Mental Illness No Laughing Matter

By April Lewis

Hello and welcome to the Mental Health Hot Line.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.

If you’re schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are depressed, it doesn’t matter which number you press as no one will answer you.


October 2 – 8, 2011 is Mental Health Awareness Week in Canada.

This is an annual national public education campaign designed to raise awareness and

 open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness.

Why do we even need a Mental Illness Awareness week you might ask?

One out of five Canadians is affected by mental illness.

For too long, Canadians with mental illnesses have been in the shadows. Too few Canadians

know about the burden of mental illness on our society and too few sufferers and their families

seek help when they need it.

Some do reach out though but their story is a tragic one. One such person is local, successful

businessman, Gord Bylo, who has experienced the stigma of mental illness first-hand.  For the

past ten years, he and his family have lived with the nightmare of having a son with

schizophrenia and addiction issues or what is known as a concurrent disorder. 

Frustrated by his journey to help his son, Gord is motivated to tell his story in his desire to help

 erase the stigma of mental health and addictions. 

“People need to know they are not alone – our society would be a much better place

if we judged ourselves based on how we treat our most vulnerable.  Our citizens with mental

 health issues and addictions need to be respected and cared for.  We must break down the

 stigma” says Gord.

With this goal in mind, Gord has collaborated with JOY TV (part of ZoomerMedia) to create a 26

episode television series called “State of Mind.

As a former healthcare Manager of Addictions, I was approached to help produce this series. 

Our first thirteen episodes which will be taped October 11 – 14th inclusive will cover not only

 Gord’s moving story but other timely and relevant topics.

We have some amazing guests who will appear in studio including medical experts and

professionals in the field of addictions and behavioural psychology. 

One of our episodes will feature the story of a teenage alcoholic.  At the opposite end of the

spectrum we have a wealthy senior who was a “closet” drinker and has now been sober for

twenty-five years.  Both of these people have turned their lives around and will share their


A model and performer whose life was marred by an eating disorder.

A “perfect” young married woman who will speak openly about her depression and who now

“blogs” about it.

A man addicted to technology who went “offline” for a year and wrote a book about

his experience.

Real people with real stories. 

Mental illness doesn’t just affect the people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. 

It affects everyone from all walks of life and from every socioeconomic strata of society.  That

 means you and me, our family, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbours.

I invite you to be a part of the audience on October 11 – 14th inclusive as we tape our show

State of Mind” live in our JOY TV studios at #204 – 5668 – 192nd Ave., in Surrey.  Please contact

me for more information at [email protected] or 604-536-8717.

Because mental illness is no laughing matter.