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National Awards Program Recognizes Pandemic Heroes

Ontario Shores and CMHA logos
Published Date

A new national awards program will celebrate the efforts of individuals, teams and businesses who worked to support the mental health needs of their colleagues, employees and communities after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Created in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores), Pandemic Heroes – Standing Up for Mental Health is a celebration of Canada’s collective commitment to mental health.

Whether it was an employer introducing virtual services to support the mental health needs of its employees, businesses making donations to support those working on the front lines or a young person organizing the creation of a rock garden to raise the spirits of our healthcare heroes, there are multiple examples of Canadians finding ways to lift each other up during the pandemic.

“This past year has reinforced that we all have a role to play in supporting the mental wellness of those around us,” said Michel Rodrigue, President and CEO of the MHCC. “Recognizing those individuals and organizations who took that support one step further is an important reminder that you don’t need to be a mental health professional to make a real difference, and you don’t need to wear a cape to be a hero.”

Pandemic Heroes is now accepting award nominations from across Canada to recognize efforts in the following categories:

  • Caring Partner - Private business which went above and beyond to support essential service workers
  • Community Leader - Individual aged 19 or older who positively impacted the mental health of their community
  • Essential Service Employer - Business or organization which supported the mental health needs of their essential service employees
  • Inspiring Youth - Individual aged 18 or younger who positively impacted the mental health of their community
  • Healthcare Hero - Individual or team who enhanced the mental health of colleagues, patients and/or community members while continuing to provide direct patient care

A complete description of the categories and nomination form is available through

“Our community has supported our efforts to continuously provide mental health care during the pandemic and we know that spirit has flourished across the country,” notes Karim Mamdani, President and CEO of Ontario Shores, a specialty mental health hospital in Whitby, Ont. “We are proud to partner with CMHA and the MHCC to celebrate the efforts to care for one another during this unique time.”

Nominations are currently being accepted through to August 27, 2021 and will be reviewed and selected based on predetermined criteria.

“The pandemic has caused extreme levels of stress and anxiety for people across Canada,” says Margaret Eaton, National CEO of CMHA. “We have also seen people display great resiliency during these times of crisis. We celebrate the individuals and communities that continue to meet this challenge with heartwarming care, creativity and compassion.”

Selected recipients will be recognized at the Pandemic Heroes – Standing Up for Mental Health Gala hosted by mental health advocate and former Olympic rower Silken Laumann. The Gala is scheduled for December 2, 2021 in the Vanity Fair Ballroom at OMNI King Edward Hotel in Toronto.

Award Categories

Nomination Form

About Canadian Mental Health Association:
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive. Visit the CMHA website at

About the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) leads the development and dissemination of innovative programs and tools to support the mental health and wellness of people in Canada. Through its unique mandate from Health Canada, the MHCC supports federal, provincial, and territorial governments and organizations in the implementation of sound public policy to improve the mental health landscape and ensure everyone in Canada has access to the support they need.

About Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences:
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) is a leader in mental health care, providing a range of specialized assessment and treatment services for people living with complex mental illness. Patients benefit from a recovery-oriented environment of care, built on compassion, inspiration and hope. Ontario Shores engages in research, education and advocacy initiatives to advance the mental health care system.

For further information:
Darryl Mathers, Communications Officer, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, 905-430-4055 ext. 6583, 905-435-8623, @email.

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