OPA Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award

About the Award

The OPA Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award is presented annually to a non-physician member of the public who has made a major contribution to the understanding of mental illness and its impact on individuals in society.

Previous recipients have included leaders in volunteer and community activities, people from the field of journalism and individuals who suffer from mental illness. Our most recent recipients were: Ron Ellis, Lt. General (Ret.) Roméo Dallaire, Anne Murray, Phil Upshall, Senator Michael Kirby, William MacPhee, Michael Bay, Robert Munsch, Sister Margaret Smith, Margaret Trudeau, Voices from the Street, Brother Richard MacPhee, Clara Hughes, Ann Dowsett Johnston, Sgt. Lorna Bruce, Dr. Heather Stuart, Kim Moran, Eric Windeler and Jennifer Coggon.


Nomination Process:

To submit a nomination, click the link below and complete the form. For any questions contact eopa@opa.ca.

Nomination Form


The 2021 OPA Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award Winner is
Jennifer Coggon

Jennifer is a founding member of Ontario Patients for Psychotherapy (OPFP), a grassroots collective that advocates to protect public health insurance funding for a full range of psychotherapy services. Since 2019, OPFP has lobbied the Ontario government to rescind their proposal to unilaterally cap funding for psychotherapy sessions. Jennifer accepts OPA’s award to recognize those people in Ontario who need publicly-funded, patient-centred mental health care.


The 2020 OPA Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award Winner is
Eric Windeler

Eric started Jack.org with his wife Sandra Hanington and their closest friends in May 2010 after losing their son Jack to suicide. Since then, Eric has put aside his business interests and leads Jack.org full-time. Eric works tirelessly to inspire discussion about mental health, especially among young people. In 2013, Eric received the Champion of Mental Health award from CAMIHI and the QE Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2015, Eric was honoured by Queen's University, receiving an honorary degree (LLD) recognizing his work in the field of mental health. In 2017, Eric and Sandra Hanington received the Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) from the office of the Governor General. Most recently, Eric was selected as one of the 150 CAMH Difference Makers for mental health in Canada. Eric is also recipient of the 2018 Queen’s Alumni Humanitarian of the Year Award. Eric sits on the board of FRAYME, a youth mental health best practices charity.

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