BCSS Foundation is grateful to have supportive donors whose contributions continue to make a difference in the lives of those affected by schizophrenia or severe mental illness. Get to know some of our donors!

We chatted with Lyn Stewart about why she supports families affected by schizophrenia and other serious mental illness.

How did you get involved with BCSS?

I have a son living with serious mental illness. I was at my wits end trying to determine what to do and where to go. My friend told me about BC Schizophrenia Society and that I could receive help. 

Our lives changed for the better as soon as I connected with BCSS, and met a Regional Educator. She explained that support and treatment for schizophrenia is available.

Upon attending BCSS Family Education & Family Support Groups, my family and I began to make wonderful connections, networking with others, and feeling less alone.

Why do you choose to donate to BCSS? 

I am proud of the help, support, social connections, wisdom, education, hope, and research that BCSS provides. No other organization comes close!

What do you hope to achieve by donating to BCSS?

BCSS programs need adequate funding. My donation helps support hiring family support workers, raising awareness, research, and so much more.

I am proud to give back to an organization that has helped and inspired me as much as it has.

How long have you been supporting BCSS?

Since 2002, when BCSS supported me when my son had a psychotic episode and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. No one nor other organization was there for us – except for BCSS.

And, so, I decided to be there for them.

What BCSS groups, programs, and services do you participate in and what have you gotten from them?

Over the years, I’ve participated in many BCSS groups and programs; benefiting greatly from their services.

The BCSS Respite Program gave my husband and me a break from the nightmare we were going through over the years.

The Family to Family education courses (now Strengthening Families Together) helped us better understand mental illness and how to navigate BC’s mental health system. I also made connections with other family members who were also struggling and looking for help. Through this course, I gained advocacy skills and came to realize the crucial role I played – and still play – when advocating for my son.

BCSS’ Monthly Family Support Groups allowed me to share experiences, advice, information, tools, knowledge, and network. THIS IS BIG! Through these groups, facilitated by a BCSS Regional Educator, I felt less defeated and I found hope.

In 2017 and 2018, my sons and I loved BCSS’ annual Re-Mind, a gallery event which showcased talents of people with schizophrenia that included art exhibitions, singing, musical performers, writers, and speakers – BCSS volunteers proudly sharing their accomplishments. Kudos to the participants who decorated the venue and the artists who shared their work – adding to this enjoyable gala.

Through BCSS’ annual appreciation event for BCSS donors, we learn about the big strides made in schizophrenia research. We learn about BCSS’ continual work and really understand how our financial donations are able to help improve the lives of people with lived experiences. Our financial donations enable BCSS to improve the lives of people with schizophrenia, and BCSS Foundation support promising medical research to treat this serious mental illness.

Any further comments or things you’d like to add?

BCSS raises awareness about schizophrenia being a serious illness. And, like Black Lives Matter, “Mental Illness Matters!” Let’s work together to improve the lives of folks with mental illness.

BCSS supported me to make connections which have made all the difference, giving me strength. 

A person living with mental illness and family members face an uphill battle – struggling for better mental health programs. BCSS is the best ally for my family and me; BCSS folks understand that every positive connection makes a huge difference. 

Through BCSS, we are reminded that we are not alone – and feeling connected gives us strength and knowledge. With hope, hard work, and proper funding we will have improved treatment and enhanced research to, one day, cure people with schizophrenia. 

Please also use this opportunity to explain why you think it’s important for people to care about mental illness.

“It could have been me, but instead it was you!”

Benefiting from the knowledge and help from BCSS, has helped me navigate the “medical system” when my son suffered from this live changing illness in 2003. The brain is a part of our body. Funding for researching so many other illnesses have shown fantastic improvements in their treatments, yet the research to understand and treat brain disorders lags far behind.

Schizophrenia is not a death sentence! And a cure may not currently exist, but it is possible. I would love to ensure that schizophrenia researchers (which BCSS Foundation helps fund) continue to have the funding needed to work on finding the cure. Wouldn’t you like to see a cure for schizophrenia realized as fast as researchers have found a vaccine for COVID-19?

If you’d like to share your story about why you give to BCSS, please email us at info@bcss.org.