Get Informed! 3: Experience with Mental Illness


It is estimated that one in every five Canadians will have a mental illness at some point in their life. In 2001, The World Health Organization estimated that 25% of people in the world will suffer from some type of mental illness during their lives. This means that it is likely that mental illness will impact you - either directly or through someone you know. In this activity, you will be asked to think about how lives are affected by mental illness by learning about famous figures who live with mental illness and reflecting on their experience.


1. Find a news story about someone living with a mental illness today, or a biography of a historical figure who lived with a mental illness. Some examples include Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey, Ludwig Von Beethoven, Axl Rose, Vincent Van Gogh, and Princess Diana.

2. Write a 250 word composition about the challenges and successes this individual experienced. You might want to consider the following questions in your written reflection:

  • How does/did mental illness impact their life?
  • What barriers do/did they experience (e.g., discrimination)?
  • What do you admire about this individual?
  • If writing about a historical figure, how might they face barriers today, or how might these challenges be different?

3. Post your work in the Student Writing section of the classroom. Be sure to select the appropriate assignment from the pulldown menu at the bottom of your submission.

4. Browse through your classmate's postings. Do you see common themes, perceptions and emotions towards mental illness which are present in the lives of those researched?

Learning Objectives

  • Normalize the experience of living with mental illness
  • Reflect on the emotional and practical impacts of mental illness
  • Develop creative writing abilities, reflective skills, and critical thinking abilities

Continue to Get Informed! 4: History of Mental Illness »