Patients + Research: Rachel Scott-Mignon


I wish for the day when my mental illness goes into remission for good
By Rachel Scott-Mignon

Rachel Scott-Mignon, The Royal

It has been 10 years now since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Getting the diagnosis, after having suffered with symptoms for most of my life, was a relief. But, even so, it has remained a struggle. There’s no denying it; treatment has been rough.

And I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones.  I have had the good fortune to have had the support of my family and of multiple skilled and compassionate psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, dieticians, and nurses.

My journey has been immense. I have been prescribed more than 30 medications over the years. It remains a system of trial-and-error. I have travelled to the United States to obtain the latest medications. On top of battling the symptoms of my illness (anxiety, depression, mania, an eating disorder and episodes of self harm) I have suffered from numerous side effects caused by the medications, ranging from nausea to a frightening seizure. I have undergone electro-convulsive therapy several times. I’ve been hospitalized more times than I can count, most often at The Royal and, most recently, for 3 weeks this past winter.

But there is hope. The Royal is a special place. The wonderful staff, the progressive culture, and the constant drive to break new ground through research, all serve to give patients like me hope for a brighter future. I know what a difference it could make in my life to have improved diagnostic tools and new treatments to help me get better faster. The acquisition of The Royal’s new brain-imaging machine and the research that it will enable at the Institute of Mental Health Research is such exciting news for me and many of the patients who rely on treatment to get and stay well. I can’t tell you how much I wish for the day when my mental illness goes into remission for good! This could well be another step toward that day.

I’m aware that this new opportunity for insight into the mind that the PET/fMRI machine brings to The Royal was made possible through support from the Ottawa community and for that I am grateful. Because of the compassion and the dedication of the team at The Royal, I have hope. I know I am not alone in this struggle.


If you would like to participate in the Patients + Research blog series, please email or call Elise Bradt at, 416-205-1469, or tweet us at @CAHOhospitals.

Stay tuned on our blog for more Patients + Research posts and share your own insights on Twitter with the hashtag #onHWS. To learn more about why health research matters for Ontario and how you can support it, download the Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter Policy Platform and check out our other blog posts and videos.


Patients + Research: Gail Bellissimo

Patients + Research is a platform for patients to discuss their relationship and experience with the research that leads to new cures, cares and treatments. Ontario’s 24 research hospitals are committed to driving best practices for patient co-design of health research. When patients are at the table, the Ontario’s health research enterprise does a better job at making Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter.

Continue reading “Patients + Research: Gail Bellissimo”

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Baycrest Health Sciences

Mindfulness is a term that’s used a lot, often in lifestyle magazines and articles about coping with the stresses of modern life. But mindfulness is more than just a buzzword or a fad. Scientific research has established that mindfulness training programs can provide psychological and physical benefits.

Continue reading “RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Baycrest Health Sciences”

Event Advisory: A Health Research Conference for Patients, People and Prosperity

Gail Bellissimo, a mother of four sons, was diagnosed with major, treatment-resistant depression more than 10 years ago. She tried dozens of medications with little to no success, making psychotherapy less effective. Gail felt she existed in a dark, hopeless life, with little hope for a brighter future. Then last year, Gail joined a research study at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) where she received repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulations. After only two weeks of treatment, Gail said that she felt like could breathe again. At three weeks, she felt like she deserved to be alive.

That study is just one example of how Ontario is making strides in innovative health research. But more is needed to help maintain Ontario’s position as the health innovation engine in Canada; finding and applying tomorrow’s cures today, while driving economic growth and attracting talent.

Currently, the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario’s (CAHO) 24 member hospitals invest $1.4 billion annually in health research in Ontario, which generates $3.4 billion in economic output and supports 41,000 total jobs across Ontario.

On June 1, CAHO will bring together more than 200 leading local and international health sector leaders to discuss how they can collaborate to drive and sustain a Healthier, Wealthier and Smarter province. The event will feature keynote remarks by the Honourable Dr. Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, as well as presentations by key thought leaders, in addition to Gail:

Karen Michell, CAHO Executive Director, who will speak to how the work of Ontario’s research hospitals is delivering results and how Ontario can, and must, maintain this momentum.
Simon Denegri, UK National Director for Patients and Public at NIHR and Chair of INVOLVE, who will speak to the pioneering research-based patient engagement work being done in the UK and what lessons there are for Ontario from this work.
Honourable Michael Wilson, Chancellor of the University of Toronto and former Canadian Finance Minister, who will speak to the economic contribution made by health research and his experience with professional and community organizations, specifically as it relates to mental health.
Tina Ceroni, Toronto business owner, who will share her poignant journey of being diagnosed with a rare and incurable neuro-muscular disorder and how she got her life back thanks to a first-of-its-kind stem cell transplant procedure developed in Ontario.

Media are invited to attend the conference on June 1, and speakers are available for interviews. To RSVP to the conference or request an interview with one of the speakers, please see the contact information below.

Conference details:

Who: Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) and its 24 member hospitals

What: Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter: A Health Research Conference for Patients, People and Prosperity. CAHO and its 24 member hospitals’ discussion to promote the goal of greater investment in a long-term health research funding strategy.

When: Monday, June 1, 2015, 10:30 AM – 6:00 PM

Where: MaRS Discovery District Atrium, 101 College St, Toronto, ON M5G 1L7

About CAHO
The Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario is the non-profit association of Ontario’s 24 research hospitals. CAHO provides a focal point for strategic initiatives on behalf of our member hospitals. As research intensive hospitals, CAHO members are fully affiliated with a university medical or health sciences faculty. Our hospitals provide the most complex and urgent care, teach the next generation of health care providers and foster health care innovation derived from discovery research. For more information, visit

For further information, to RSVP or to arrange interviews, please contact: Erin Collett,, 416-849-8911.