Mary Anne Levasseur
My interest in mental health as a family peer support facilitator and a patient-partner leader in Canadian healthcare research is grounded in my role of caregiver and advocate for my son over the past 20 years. Even as he struggled with long-time mental health and addiction problems, my son continued to excel in many ways, always hoping for a full recovery from his illness. In our indefatigable joint search for appropriate care, treatment, rehabilitation and recovery services, I learned to navigate the mental health care system, advocate for appropriate services, engage and collaborate with a multitude of healthcare providers, institutions and government agencies to support my son in his difficult journey. This life experience of mother, caregiver and advocate, together with my academic accomplishments and 35 years of business experience, have contributed greatly to my skills and knowledge as a patient-partner leader and mentor, peer researcher and family peer facilitator.
Having established and led ACCESS Open Minds Family and Carers Council (AFC), a stakeholder in ACCESS Open Minds, the first network sponsored under the Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, I continue to be an advisor to the AFC Council. This, together with extensive experience in family peer support work at the Prevention and Early Intervention for Psychosis Program (PEPP-Montréal) have contributed to building capacity as a patient partner and peer researcher in various other family caregiver and patient partner-focused research projects in Canada.
As a co-founder of Patient Advisors Network, I hope that sharing my experience, knowledge and passion in patient-family caregiver research and support may be of value to family caregivers as they assist their loved ones, while ensuring a needed focus on engaging patients, families and caregivers in healthcare services and research.