Appeals from Mental Health Champion Daniel Alfredsson & Firefighter Larry RuskHighlight Successful Fundraiser

    OTTAWA, Oct. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Over 400 corporate and community leaders
from across the National Capital Region kicked off Mental Illness Awareness
Week by attending the first Leaders for Mental Health Breakfast, donating
$238,000 to patient care and research. This unique breakfast was hosted by the
Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health and presenting sponsor KINAXIS
    A video message from the campaign spokesperson, Ottawa Senators Captain
Daniel Alfredsson welcomed participants to the event, where they learned more
about the urgent need to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness and
the need to raise funds to support patient care and innovative research.
    "Momentum is growing and we are all affected by mental illness," said
Richard Getz, Co-Chair of the event and VP Retail of local real estate leader
Colonnade Development Inc. "As someone whose family has personally been
affected by mental illness for over 30 years, I am thrilled that we are
finally seeing this issue receive the attention and focus it so desperately
needs. Whether our mothers, brothers, colleagues and friends, it's time we
start doing something about it. One in five families are affected by mental
illness at some point, and the residents of Eastern Ontario are fortunate to
have access to The Royal, which is a world-renowned centre for excellence in
mental health care and research that is so important to our community."
    The percentage of dollars invested in mental health research in Canada is
less than 5 percent, yet mental illness accounts for 22 percent of lost work
days. The community leaders who attended today's event witnessed firsthand how
the issue of mental health impacts all aspects of society from families to
    The event featured video vignettes from the Royal's powerful 'You Know
Who I Am' campaign, including personal messages from local citizens and
well-known personalities touched by mental illness, such as former Mayor Bob
Chiarelli, event Co-Chair Richard Getz and campaign spokesperson Daniel
    A very special guest at the event was Larry Rusk, a 24-year veteran of
the Ottawa Fire Department who has stepped forward to share his struggle with
post-traumatic stress disorder, as one of the faces of the 'You Know Who I Am'
campaign in an effort to help others. Rusk successfully received treatment for
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after he responded to a horrific firebombing of
a row house in 2003 in which two children perished.
    "Perhaps unlike any other issue, mental health needs champions to help
reduce stigma," said Tim Kluke, President & CEO of the Royal Ottawa Foundation
for Mental Health. "This event engaged the leaders of our community as
champions who are helping us shine a spotlight on the significance of mental
health for families and workplaces."
    "We cannot ignore statistics that put the annual direct and indirect
costs of mental illnesses to the Canadian economy in the range of $14 to
$20 billion," stressed Kluke. "These champions are spreading the word that any
contribution to the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health goes towards
patient care and research that can help people become well again and lead
healthy, productive lives."
    The first in a series of annual events held by the Royal to build
awareness and incite support from individuals and businesses alike, this
year's breakfast presenting sponsor was KINAXIS, a company with a history of
supporting mental health initiatives in the United States.
    "The launch of the Royal's 'You Know Who I Am' campaign incited KINAXIS
to embrace mental health as our corporate cause of choice and gives us an
opportunity to invest in an organization that serves the local community in
which the vast majority of our employees live and work," said Doug Colbeth,
President & CEO of KINAXIS. The company has also committed to launching an
employee awareness and fundraising campaign on behalf of the Royal Ottawa
Foundation for Mental Health.
    As part of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, the Royal Ottawa Mental
Health Centre replaced the 100-year-old Royal Ottawa Hospital in October 2006.
Its affiliated research institute, the University of Ottawa Institute of
Mental Health Research (IMHR) encompasses state-of-the-art laboratories and
technology. The IMHR recruits some of the brightest stars in neuroscience and
behavioural research from around the world.

    The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health funds the IMHR's innovative
research such as gene mapping of mental illness, assists the purchase of
advanced medical technology, and provides funds to ensure specialized
professional training for staff which ultimately improves care for residents
across Eastern Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Christina Selin, Director, Communications &
Community Engagement, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, (613) 722-6521, ext.
6448, cell (613) 818-2568; Sue Riley, Administrative Coordinator,
Communications Deparment, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, (613) 722-6521, ext.
6349, cell (613) 798-3906

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