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Mental Illness Awareness Week

This mental health illness awareness week, we caught up with a few of our APHD graduates who are doing their part in the community and helping others deal with their mental health. Below, they shared some of their top mental health tips with us.

Mary-Margaret Caldwell
Master of Education (MEd) in Counselling Psychology, 2002

Current position: Registered Psychotherapist/ Mental Health Therapist, BC Provincial Health Authority, WorkSafeBC & Private Practice

Photo of APHD alum - MM Caldwell

A few mental health tips from Mary-Margaret:

  • Learn to embrace change and try to see change as an opportunity for growth.  Like an old Calvin and Hobbs cartoon that I have hanging in my office says, ‘Change is invigorating!  If you don’t accept new challenges, you become complacent and lazy! Your life atrophies!
  • Be proactive with your well-being and mental health.  Seek help early if you start to struggle.
  • Learn to enjoy and be grateful for the simple things in life: friendships, pets, fun, recreation, leisure, whatever makes you happy.  Don’t spend too much time working and neglecting those other parts of yourself.

Read more about Mary-Margaret Caldwell.

Richard Piekarczyk-Vacca
Master of Education (MEd) in Counselling Psychology, 2020
Current position: Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying),
Partner and Owner at Romero Psychotherapy and Renova Recovery and Treatment Centre

APHD alum photo - Richard PV


A few mental health tips from Richard:

  • Ask for help. Do not be ashamed to seek support from others.
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Identify people in your life who you can trust. People with whom you are not frightened to be vulnerable with. The ability to humble yourself to the support of others in no way limits your personal worth.


​Read more about Richard-Piekarczyk-Vacca.

Suzanne Dennison
Master of Arts (MA) in Child Study and Education, 1975
Current Position: Registered Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor, Cauchi Dennison Psychotherapy; President, Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals (OAMHP)

APHD Alum - Suzanne Dennison

A few mental health tips from Suzanne:

  • Remind yourself that life is often simple and complicated or someplace in between. Even without COVID, think about practicing self-care and remember that doing so might look different for everyone.
  • Recognize that much we have long considered our basic entitlements (like seeing friends, going for coffee or eating out) are in fact luxuries and if we adjust our expectations just a little, we will likely find ourselves more accepting and far less stressed.
  • Remember to learn or practice some basic mindfulness. Right now, we are all feeling COVID fatigued so let’s take a few moments of every day to stop and be mindful as we make our way through this period.  

​Read more about Suzanne Dennison.

If you find yourself struggling with mental health or just looking for some support, please visit our APHD Coping Resources page here.

We also have a number of mental health tips gathered by our department here.