Andrea Marshall

In honour of International Women’s Day, Ontario Shores is proud to highlight a few of its extraordinary women who lead and inspire each day as they dedicate their careers to changing views on mental health and helping those impacted by mental illness.

Andrea

Describe you career journey thus far? What led you to your current role?

I have always loved writing.  Following University I got a job at a Public Relations firm and further developed my skills.  From there I moved on to a Communications role at a not-for-profit healthcare organization where I fell in love with healthcare communications.  For the past 12 years I have been at Ontario Shores where I have been able to bring these experiences together and build a career where I am able to make a difference for others, and for that I am truly grateful.

Do you have a connection to mental health that you would like to share? or What attracted you to working in the area of mental health?
I knew early in my career that I loved healthcare communications so when this opportunity arose 12 years ago I was excited.  I didn’t know much about mental health when I joined the organization but I have spent a lot of time learning about it, reading books, taking courses like Mental Health First Aid and connecting with patients and staff to hear about their experiences. 

What has prepared you the most for the role(s) you have had?
I have always had a strong work ethic and even stronger organizational skills. Both of those skills have really helped as my career has grown and my responsibilities have expanded. I continue to be open to new opportunities and challenges and that mindset has led to some tremendous achievements and learning opportunities.

What is the best piece of professional advice you have been given from a former leader, peer, or colleague?
Never stop learning.  There is always something we can learn from both positive and challenging situations and I truly believe it’s important to find those learning opportunities and grow from them.

How do you balance your roles and responsibilities, both at work and outside of work (for example family, volunteer roles, or personal commitments)?
This continues to be a work in progress. I am grateful for a wonderful fiancée who supports my ambition and commitment to the roles and responsibilities in my life.  I am purposeful with how I spend my time to ensure I make time for the people and activities that are important to me.   I am also learning to respectfully say ‘no’ or ‘not now’ to events, social gatherings or outside projects if it doesn’t align with my values or priorities or will impact my ability to practice the self-care strategies that have become so important to me. 

What are your self-care strategies?
As my roles and responsibilities have grown over time, self-care has become even more critical and it is has been something I have really focused on the past couple of years in particular.  I dedicate the first hour of every day to self-care.  My mornings consist of a workout and listening to a personal development podcast. I also make sure I drink plenty of water, get a good amount of sleep and I end each day by writing down five things I am grateful for that day. 

I also love spending time with family and friends, travelling, reading and cheering on the Raptors.  These moments bring me a lot of happiness and opportunities to rest and re-energize.

What drives you in your career/role?
I love to set new goals and tackle new challenges or projects, especially when they connect to making a difference for staff, patients or our communities.  I am energized when I work with others towards a shared goal and we achieve that goal together.  I remain driven to always to do my best work and seek new ways to do better as I learn more over time.

What advice would you give someone looking to start working in mental health/your area of work?
I think everyone has skills and expertise they can share to make a difference in the lives of others, like those impacted by mental illness.  I feel fortunate as a Communications professional to be able to use my skills at an organization that provides life-saving treatment for those struggling with mental illness and to be a part of our patients’ journey, even in a small way.  It is both an inspiring and challenging area of the healthcare system, but to see our patients overcome such hardship is something that is so uplifting.  If you bring passion and compassion to your work, you have a long and rewarding career in the mental health field.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t let fear get in the way of creating a life of purpose and happiness.  You are stronger than you think and capable of achieving big goals.

What is the best part about working at Ontario Shores?
The best part about my role at Ontario Shores is working with the three amazing and dedicated teams I have the privilege of leading each day.  They care deeply about their work, our patients, and each other.  The laughter, the creativity, the energy, the comradery, and the support is what makes these individuals and teams so special and makes coming to work each day both fun and rewarding. 

What/who is your biggest influence and why?
I have been fortunate to have worked and currently work with leaders and colleagues who inspire me, who I learn from and who motivate me each day.

But personally, my beloved Grandma who passed away a couple of years ago had a significant influence on me.  She was always so happy when those she loved were experiencing happiness or a moment of celebration.  She showed me that no matter what she was facing, especially as her health was failing towards the end of her life, she always had a smile, a hug and positive words of encouragement when I shared good news or simply dropped by for a visit.  I am also pretty sure my love of shopping and shoes was inspired by her!

Why is it important to recognize International Women’s Day?
Countless women before us have paved the way for the experiences we have today.  We owe it to the women of our future to continue to blaze the trail that will give all women the freedom to be the women they want to be and live a life of equality, balance and opportunity.  Awareness moments like this serve as a powerful reminder to be proud of who we are, advocate for where we want to go and to build up the women around us to help us get there.

In what ways can women continue to support each other and life each other up?
I truly believe when women support women, anything is possible.  We can empathize and understand the different journeys women have had to get where they are.  We are fortunate to live during a time when there is plenty of space and opportunity for everyone to live a life that makes them happy without the need for competition.  Be the woman that motivates, supports, celebrates, and inspires women around you to live their best life.