Two members of the McGill community are being celebrated for their work advocating for mental health in Canada.
Srividya Iyer, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry; and Hani Rukh E Qamar, a BSc. Psychology and International Development Studies student, have been named winners of the Champions of Mental Health Award. The Awards are handed out annually in seven categories by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) to “celebrate the people across the country that, through their advocacy, innovative solutions, and remarkable stories continue to bring attention to the importance of mental health in Canada.”
Iyer won in the Innovation category while Qamar won in the Youth division.
“We are so grateful for the important work they have been doing to advance the mental health agenda in Canada,” said Ellen Cohen, co-chair of CAMIMH of the seven winners.
“These Champions, and every other Champion that has come before them, are instrumental in helping us advance the mental health and substance use agenda in Canada, and for putting a face to some of the progress being made around the country,” said Kim Hollihan, co-chair of CAMIMH.
Supporting vulnerable populations
In the CAMIMH citation, Qamar was lauded for her founding the Canadian Advisory of Women Immigrants, which is a NPO dedicated to empowering immigrant women in all aspects of life, including mental health. “She is a Board Director at SOFIA House, which is a second stage transition home for women escaping domestic violence,” reads the citation. “Hani has also worked in research on housing first programs, alcohol management programs, youth mental health and women’s mental health. Currently, she is working as a Policy and Advocacy Fellow with IYAFP Canada, where she is providing a perspective on policies pertaining to SRH and youth.”
The CAMIMH citation highlighted Iyer’s research focusing on youth mental health and early intervention, including for serious mental health problems such as psychosis. “She leads ACCESS Open Minds, a pan-Canadian network of 250+ diverse stakeholders that is transforming mental healthcare for urban, rural, Indigenous, post-secondary and homeless youths at 16 sites across Canada,” says the citation. “She has been contributing to several other mental health capacity-building efforts, including in India, where she was born.”
Working toward “a better mental health future for Canadians”
CAMIMH’s annual Champions of Mental Health Awards recognize Canadians who have worked to advance the mental health agenda in Canada. Individuals were nominated by their peers, colleagues and community members. A CAMIMH selection committee, comprised of representatives from health and social care provider organizations, and organizations that represent people with mental illness, their families and caregivers, reviewed the submissions.
The award winners will be celebrated at the annual Champions of Mental Health Awards gala, taking place virtually on October 5, during Mental Illness Awareness Week.
“Especially after such a difficult and uncertain year, it is all the more important to celebrate the amazing individuals that forged ahead in the fight for a better mental health future for Canadians,” said Champions Gala Chair Florence Budden. “This year’s awards are all the more impressive and reflective of such critical work in our communities.”