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SJHH / Health Services/ Mental Health & Addiction Services/ Share Your Story

Share Your Story

Real People. Real Recovery.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and AM900CHML have worked together to raise awareness about mental illness and addictions, and the impact of care received here at St. Joe’s. Cultivating compassion in our community is part of St. Joseph’s mission, and the unique perspective of a patient, family member/caregiver or staff member helps shine a light on the reality of recovery.

To kick off this year's Mental Illness Awareness Week, AM900CHML will be airing a series of awareness commercials where listeners will be introduced to Renee's story of recovery. Healthcare professionals and community members are invited to submit their stories using the form below with the chance to have your stories published by St. Joe's.

Renee & Celine Dean


Renee and Celine pictured during their radio station recording 

"I'm alive today because of St. Joe's."

"My name is Renee Williams, and I've had this my whole life pretty much. Renee was referred to St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton by a doctor to begin receiving treatment for mental illness and addiction. Renee was agoraphobic, severely depressed, and abusing substances which left her unable to leave her home for over a year. Today, Renee continues her care at St. Joseph's and is pursing her dream of becoming a yoga instructor so that she can continue her journey through helping others connect their mind, body, and spirit.

One in three Canadians are affected by mental illness and addictions; this means that one in three Canadian families will also be affected. Celine is Renee's sister, and recalls the journey they've shared, "it's different now, she's more open and talkative...I'm really thankful that we have St. Joe's in our lives. They really saved our family."

Hear more of Renee's story HERE

Candice Brimner

Candice pictured at the opening of St. Joseph's West 5th Campus

"Hold the hope for someone who might feel none."

"My name is Candice, and, I am an addict,” Candice shares her story of a happy youth – of a loving family, summers at the trailer park, church and brunch on Sundays, and bible camp when she was twelve. It was there that she first got high. Experimentation with marijuana turned to alcohol, and cocaine. By age 16, she had started doing crack. By age 21 her world had evolved into using crack every day, surrounded by the influence of criminals, crime, and ultimately drug-induced psychosis and paranoia.That's when she decided to get help, "It's only because of St. Joe's that I am a contributing member of society."

Finding St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Womankind Addiction Service marked the turning point for Candice. “Womankind turned into my safe place,” she told the captivated crowd. “It was a place where I wasn’t judged – for my delusions, my paranoia – for the way I looked and smelled. It was a place that gave me hope. Where I met so many wonderful women who embraced me and loved me, when I wasn’t able to love myself.”

Candice describes a pivotal moment in her treatment, when she met Program Manager, Holly Raymond. “Holly saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself – she was the first person who planted in me the seed of hope. After meeting Holly, Candice’s journey to recovery began in earnest. Today Candice continues her work at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, and has taken on a new role as Implementation Coordinator for the HNHB LHIN Concurrent Disorders Capacity Building Strategy. “Rejoice in recovery. Hold the hope for someone who might feel none. Together, we can be the change we want to see in the world.”

Alyssa Hanlon- Chow 

Alyssa pictured at the Youth Wellness Centre

“I’ve come a long way and it has helped me open up.”

Alyssa Hanlon-Chow is an introspective 24 year old who lived with her mother until the age of 16 and then became a self described “street youth.” After traumatic experiences she looked for help and support in her community, but continued to struggle with mental health issues. In 2015, Alyssa heard about St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre (YWC) from another youth- focused organization and decided to refer herself. “They welcomed me with open arms,” said Alyssa of the staff at YWC.

“I’ve come a long way and it has helped me open up.” YWC staff advocated for Alyssa by attending physician appointments with her and even helped her feel comfortable enough to get involved in their art sessions. Alyssa says the YWC program’s social, connected culture and close relationships with key staff has been a huge help. Now, Alyssa encourages other youth to come to YWC. She credits her YWC counsellor for her progress saying “she helps me get up in the morning... I know I’m doing better.”

Share Your Story

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If you or a loved one is suffering from mental health crises call COAST 24/7 at 905-972-8338 or dial 911. You can also visit