Thinking of suicide or worried about someone you know? Call or text 9-8-8, toll-free, anytime, for support.

You are currently on the:

National Site

Visit our provincial websites

2004 CMHA National Award Winners

The National Awards program recognizes the outstanding efforts of CMHA volunteers and staff members in communities throughout Canada who exemplify the spirit of the Association. CMHA salutes the award winners for their efforts to make a difference in mental health in Canada. In 2004, the recipients of awards were as follows:

C.M. Hincks Award

Rick Casey

Rick Casey began a very courageous cross-country bicycle journey in May, 2003, to raise awareness of the needs of consumers facing mental health problems as well as to remember his daughter Kyla, who was diagnosed with bipolar/schizo-affective disorder shortly after her 16th birthday. Rick’s bicycle journey took him 8,000 miles across the country. CMHA branches, regions and divisions rallied to support him along the way, offering him food, shelter and encouragement. Crowds greeted Rick in each city, to celebrate his courage share in his hope and learn about the impact of mental illness.

Consumer Involvement Award

Margaret Neraasen

Margaret Neraasen has made an outstanding contribution both as a consumer and to the promotion and involvement of consumers within CMHA. She was one of the first Peer Support Advocates at the CMHA Mid Island Nanaimo Branch and she was also responsible for training an additional 96 Peer Support Advocacy participants. Margaret has provided many hours of peer support and advocacy to mentally ill people in Nanaimo, BC. Margaret regularly contributes by organizing bake sales and garage sales to raise money for the clubhouse program and the local non-profit society.

Outstanding Volunteer Service Award

Judy Watson

Judy Watson has devoted countless hours to the CMHA in her own community, across Ontario and nation-wide. As a skilled facilitator and chairperson, she has brought strong analytical and impeccable leadership skills with her to each new position she has undertaken within the CMHA. During her many years as a CMHA volunteer, Judy has held a variety of positions at all levels of the organization. She was President of the CMHA Lambton Branch, Vice President of the CMHA Ontario Board of Directors, Chair of the CMHA Ontario Governance Committee and a member of not only the CMHA Ontario Public Issues Workgroup, but also of the CMHA Ontario Executive Committee, and the National Board of Directors.

Media Award

CBC Radio One – The Current, “Manic Depressive Diaries” (Produced by Dick Miller)

“The Manic Depressive Diaries” offers us a revealing look at the effect bipolar disorder has on a young family. The audience becomes informed through the thoughtful observations of a loving wife, as she watches her husband disappear into a world of paranoia and darkness. The universal appeal of this series is evident throughout, as it seeks to educate the listener about the symptoms of bipolar disease and the negative impact that it can have on the lives of those it comes into contact with.

Global Television Network (NB) – “Youth in Distress Public Service Announcement” (Produced by Gary Brown)

The televised public service announcement (PSA) being honoured with this year’s media award was produced as part of a “Youth in Distress” social marketing campaign by Global TV New Brunswick. The campaign, which also includes radio spots and posters, addresses mental health concerns of youth, including the risk of suicide among this segment of our population. This PSA realistically portrays the way youth in distress can feel, offers 24 hour support and positively encourages youth in crisis to reach out and get help.

The Ottawa Citizen, “Quiet Epidemic” (Written by Andrew Duffy & Ian MacLeod)

Through this insightful newspaper series, The Ottawa Citizen described suicide as a national crisis, in an effort to educate and to fuel discussion. But still, the dominant message was one of hope, and a need for understanding. It’s important that such a noteworthy daily newspaper devoted so much focus to a topic that is so difficult for most Canadians to talk about.

Mental Health In The Workplace Award


CIBC knows that the number one factor affecting a productive workplace is stress and mental health. Its employees – under the leadership of CEO John Hunkin – understand that the ability to balance work and personal life are at the heart of managing stress. CIBC is known across the country for its innovative programs including the Coordinated Return to Work Policy that helps employees on disability leave, return to work sooner. Today, CIBC brings the employee together with a facilitator and their manager to talk about what accommodations can be made to help the individual get back to work and helps them to feel productive again.

Aleck Trawick, Q.C. Award

Mary Marshall

Mary Marshall has had a long relationship with the CMHA. In 1980, she began working for CMHA Ontario as a social policy and research analyst, and later served as an advisor to the Mayor of Toronto and to the Attorney-General of Ontario on issues of mental health.

Mary Marshall acted as legal council for 10 psychiatric hospitals throughout the Ontario where she advised forensic services and mental health review panels. She was also instrumental in developing policy in the area of health law, freedom of information and protection of privacy. More recently, Mary joined the Alberta Mental Health Board as Director of Legal and Policy Development. Since 2002, Mary has worked in a voluntary capacity as the Honorary Solicitor to CMHA Alberta Division, and is Co-chair of CMHA National’s Legal Issues Network.

CMHA Staff Award

Sarita Bopanna

Sarita Bopanna has been a dynamic member of the CMHA Toronto branch for more than 30 years. Her career started in the early 1970s when she began to develop some of the first community mental health programs in the city. Always responsive to the changing needs of the community, she initiated the philosophical shift in thinking from the use of the group home model, to that of independent living with individualized supports. She was also instrumental in bringing the Assertive Community Treatment Team Model to the forefront of service delivery. Ms. Bopanna has always been proactive in finding new ways of meeting the needs of mental health consumers. As Program Director, she has implemented new ideas into operating programs, such as the Transitional Youth Program, and The Rehabilitation Action Program, which provides much needed mental health services for cross cultural communities.

Edward J. Pennington Innovation Award

The Centre for Suicide Prevention

The Centre for Suicide Prevention (, a CMHA initiative, is a non-profit organization serving thousands of people in Alberta, and many thousands more across Canada and around the world. The Centre for Suicide Prevention’s presence on the web is significant and unprecedented, as they provide the only comprehensive database listing of crisis lines in Canada. With thousands of Canadians lost to suicide each year, the work of the Centre for Suicide Prevention is absolutely essential in promoting understanding and prevention in this critical area.

Marjorie Hiscott Keyes Award

Jo-Anne Lewis

Jo-Anne Lewis began her professional life as a nurse at the former Provincial Hospital in Saint John, the oldest psychiatric hospital in the country. Jo-Anne placed her focus on the needs of the clients for whom she worked and supported. Her advocacy, empathy and caring for persons with mental illnesses has been passed on to so many people over the years – to her colleagues, family members of clients, her own family and fellow volunteers.

National Distinguished Service Award

Jodi Cohen (Alberta)

Claude Robichaud (New Brunswick)

Cheryl Inward-Jones (Northwest Territories)

Janice Donahoe (Prince Edward Island)