After finding his own success in dealing with bipolar disorder, Ian Reid is reaching out to help other patients by joining Sunnybrook’s Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

One of those patients was his own son, who was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When his son went to Sunnybrook for treatment, Reid realized that his own experiences could be invaluable in establishing better protocols and supporting the families of new patients.

“[It] helps to bring the voice of patients and families to any decisions that are being made about the care of patients” says Reid.

Reid’s road to a stable mental health routine was challenging. In his late teens, he was a competitive sailor and the excitement of team racing on the open waters masked his manic symptoms.

“The fact that I was cheering like a madman on shore when we finished a race was much like any other athlete or fan.”

But on the flight home from one international competition, he dissolved in six hours of tears. A friend, whose father happened to be a psychiatrist, got Reid initial help with his diagnosis, but for years Reid refused to take his medication.

It wasn’t until he got married and his wife insisted that he follow the doctor’s orders that Reid changed his ways.

“I suddenly snapped to and realized my behavior was affecting more than just me.”

For more than two decades, Reid has managed his health and he hopes his lessons can help others now.

He has been working with PFAC to translate a document meant for physicians into layperson’s terms so that patients and their families can better understand their treatment options.

Another project dealt with the stigma associated with making mental health appointments.

Patients often avoid phoning a doctor because they don’t want their call returned to their office or even their home, where other ears may hear about an upcoming psychiatrist’s appointment. PFAC is trying to create more discreet communications.

“I wish we could all talk about mental health more openly” says Reid. “Because when we don’t, it restricts people from reaching out to get the help that they often need.”

A fundraiser for Sunnybrook’s PFAC will be held on June 20 at Centennial College on Progress Avenue. The theme is the relationship between food, mood and brain health.