Be Well

Six stories from Waterloo Region about Mental Health

After years of working on Insight Eye Care projects that connect with the Waterloo Region community, our creative team approaches the sensitive subject of Mental Health in this campaign.

I am afraid “Be Well” will come off as contrived. However, Kyle Bishop reassures me that all art is contrived, yet art has value when a relevant subject matter, like mental health, is involved. Kyle is an art and technology teacher at Waterloo Collegiate Institute; he assisted us with the mini-documentaries of our mental health advocates. I am concerned that the campaign will come off as capitalizing on a sensitive topic, but the involvement of six respected interview subjects put me at ease. I am scared of, ultimately, failing to capture the importance of mental health in every person’s life.

So, despite some fear and uncertainty, the creative team is stepping outside their comfort zone with this project.

Brandon Spunar

Be Well: Brandon Spunar is the founder of “Get Out Adventure Therapy.” While Brandon also struggled with his mental health, he finds comfort in the outdoors. He now helps others face their fears and reconnect with the natural world.

The first inspiration for the campaign came on a lazy Saturday reading the Community Edition at Aroma Cafe. I first discovered Brandon through this article by James Gowland that triggered my reflection on the outdoors as an important form of therapy.

Personally, backcountry camping and hiking makes me feel at total peace because I am leaving behind the technology that supposedly connects us with each other. My own struggles with mental health almost disappear when I am in nature.

It was at that moment that I told Neil about my idea to do a campaign focused on mental health.

The second inspiration came from completing a Mental Health First Aid course over the summer. The course really opened my eyes to how we talk about mental health. I learned that the spectrum of mental health includes everyone and not just those with a mental illness. Self-care and social support move you toward mental health, while an absence of support can slip you into mental illness.

Today, I use wellness strategies from the course myself and try to help others see the value of self-care. The course is a huge motivation to get the mental health message out.

Scott Thompson

Be Well: Scott Thompson started “Refined Brines” because he needed a positive change in his life. Although entrepreneurship has introduced new stress, Scott says it is worth it because he is having a positive impact on people’s lives. Refined Brines is a specialty fermentation company based in Cambridge, Ontario.

I ran into Scott Thompson at the Kitchener Market and he offered the third key ingredient to the vision. Scott shared his personal story about leaving a corporate job to start Refined Brines. Even though he expressed challenges with starting the business, his love for entrepreneurship was written on his face.

Scott’s leap of faith now motivates change in my own life. Leaving my comfort zone is scary, yet I try to find small challenges each day that make me a better, and happier, person.

Andrea Isogai

Be Well: Andrea Isogai promotes mental health in her Kindergarten classroom. Andrea uses a variety of techniques to help children understand the importance of self-care.

Fourth, Andrea Isogai walked into my life and added more structure to my vision. Even though I have only known her for a few short months, I knew she could add a new perspective to the mini-documentary.

I find that Andrea’s strategies with Kindergarten students are similar to those we should use as adults from the Mental Health First Aid course. The strategy similarity makes me wonder how adulthood shapes our mental health because of responsibility, social structure, or unhealthy goals.

Clarence Cachagee

Be Well: Clarence Cachagee is an Indigenous mental health counsellor. Growing up unaware of his indigenous roots, Clarence found his calling later in life and helps others do the same. Clarence currently works for Lutherwood in Waterloo Region.

Clarence Cachagee spoke at my full-time job’s professional development day, and he added the fifth unexpected worldview to the campaign. His focus was on building trust and empathy as educators while giving personal historical context to Indigenous peoples’ struggles.

Clarence’s talk resonates with me because I am discovering my own connections to the Qalipu First Nations. While his journey is very different from mine, the similarities are also surprising.

John Roche

Be Well: John Roche is the Clinical Director at “Transformation Counselling.” John excelled in counselling and now organizes a fleet of professional mental health experts. John also shares his personal story about mental health.

John Roche’s was the sixth impact on the vision. He has an immense formal education in counselling, with two Masters Degrees, was evident in the depth of our discussions.

I find John’s passion for mental health infectious because his practice changes so many lives. John’s view on moving past joy to transcendence is a new goal in my own life.

Patricia Wagler

Be Well: Patricia Wagler is a Facilitator and Spiritual Guide at Lorhill Farm. Pat helps people find themselves by getting them lost in a labyrinth. Patricia shares the importance of staying connected to the physical world.

Finally, Patricia Wagler brought a mystical component that left me in deep reflection. She described the disconnection from the land as a common struggle among people in modern society.

I identify with what Patricia describes as feeling caught up in my own mind and struggling to find grounding. I find her description of the labyrinth to be a beautiful physical metaphor for life.

Without Insight Eye Care, this creative campaign would not have been possible. Insight, owed by Dr. Tim Sloss and Dr. Graham Berg, works with artists in various crafts instead of dumping money into meaningless advertising. I am grateful for this opportunity to create because it allows us to have a positive influence on the Waterloo Region and around the globe.

A final thanks to Miovision for letting us use their space. It is hard to find locations that can accommodate a team of creative minds, so I express my gratitude.

I hope this campaign makes a positive change, even subtly, to your life. If you think one of these experts could help someone you know, consider sharing this post. Remember, this entire campaign started because of one article about Brandon. Your action might change a life.

Be Well.


Neil Moser

Troy Dettwiler

Nicole Wagler

Kyle Bishop