Hope + Me - MDAO’s Peer Talk Speakers Bureau is a unique, volunteer lead speaker series designed to reduce the stigma and fear surrounding mental illness. Peer Talk speakers share open and candid 'lived experience' of how mental illness has affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
We're proud to partner with Toastmasters International to help educate and engage audiences while building this exceptional program. Together, our speakers put a face on the realities of living with mental illness.
Peer Talk speakers listen to your questions and provide open, respectful dialogue to foster discussion--and empowerment to remove barriers and find the help we seek.
In addition to our Featured Speaker Series, we also provide online webinars for those unable to host a live speaker.
Christine has chosen a career of service to people for over 30 years and has contributed to supporting individuals and families across the lifespan. She has a Bachelor of Arts from University of Western Ontario and a certificate in Change Leadership from eCornell University. Christine is a leader in the non-profit sector focused on recreation, community development, early years, health promotion and mental health and addictions. She is passionate about lifelong learning and bringing one’s whole self into the work that she does.
Justin is a recent graduate in Psychology at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about breaking down stigma towards mental health as a whole and in the areas most relevant to his own life. Justin’s goal is to continue advancing this conversation in this area through Peer Talk and to speak to his lived experience. Justin is a LGBTQ+, disability, relationships, and BDD advocate.
Karie has been a member of Hope + Me's Peer Talk since its inception and is committed to fostering the conversation about mental health. Karie faced challenges with depression and anxiety for 20 years and has actively sought professional and community support to manage her mood disorders. She seeks opportunities to share and listen with friends, family, and coworkers about the journey and strategies for healthy living.
Leah is a CPA who lives and works in Toronto. She has lived experience of mental health and a keen interest in its challenges. She enjoys being active and building community connections. She is also a cat enthusiast and loves music. Topics Leah speaks on include mental health in a professional environment, trauma, anxiety, wellness, and self-care.
Lise shares her adoption journey of searching for her birth mother at 18 years old and the impact the search had on her life. She is a passionate speaker with a special interest in child/parent separation and advocating for people experiencing barriers to reproductive care and homelessness. Lise is a homeless advocate while serving as a steering committee member for a women’s housing network. She believes every story shared is a chance to make someone feel less alone.
Mathiaus self-identifies as a queer crazy addict in recovery. He is a trauma and psychiatric survivor with lived homeless experience. His journey through recovery has led him to share his story to help others. Mathiaus speaks about his experience through forums such as CBC News, The View, Narcotics Anonymous, Voices From The Street, and now Peer Talk.
Monica holds down the fort in a household with two daughters battling depression, PTSD and other issues including addiction and anorexia. She stood by her husband of 25 years in a long struggle with bipolar disorder until his recent passing. She speaks about resilience, self-care, and how unconditional love (and pets!) can keep a family together and moving forward against all odds.
Monika holds degrees in history and education as well as a certificate in Employment Counselling. As a mental health advocate, she speaks positively about resilience, the power of inner strength and the beauty and magic of allies.
Sara is excited to share her story and raise awareness of what occurs within the brain when someone is living with anxiety. Her goal is to improve understanding of the biology and psychology of mental health to help others recognize that anxiety and related challenges are more than “just in your head.” She strives to reduce stigma around mental illnesses while empowering those who experience them.