FIRST HAND STORIES – School presentations, also known as First Hand Stories, tells the story of mental illness in a moving and direct way. It is one of the Society’s most important educational programs.

First Hand Stories consists of a panel of two or three guest speakers – a person with a psychiatric diagnosis, a family member and, when available, a mental health professional. The guests are presented as a team and each describes his or her own personal experience with mental illness.

The presentations are available to schools, workplaces, professionals, service clubs and all those who work daily with the public. Pathways gives special priority for the program to Capilano University and North Shore and Sea to Sky high schools as schizophrenia usually strikes in the late teens or early twenties. Recognition of the illness by young people and their teachers is especially useful in getting help for those who are falling ill.

First Hand Stories is based on a personal storytelling model. It is a unique and powerful presentation that helps students and people in the community understand the nature and prevalence of chronic and severe mental illness. Being able to listen and talk to people with first-hand experience struggling with the illness gives the audience an even greater appreciation for how hard it can be. Questions are answered directly by the presentation team.

The sessions invariably evoke thoughtful audience response and participation. They demystify mental illness and help fight ignorance, prejudice and dusty old Hollywood myths. First Hand Stories provides essential facts about the biological basis of mental illness. It also helps many people whose relatives are ill to understand and cope within the family and in society.

Groups for whom the program is tailored include high school, college and university students, bus drivers, police forces, social workers, teachers and counsellors, church groups, service clubs, employee assistance program providers, medical and nursing students and psychiatric residents, home support workers, and financial aid workers.

If your group might be interested in a First Hand Stories presentation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.