MPP MacLeod Lends Voice To Dare To Be Vulnerable Project

Susan Blain suffered a trauma in 2019. It changed her life and took her down a dark path.

“I lost everything,” she said. “I lost my home, my savings, I was homeless, and I was suicidal. To use an expression that (Nepean MPP) Lisa MacLeod uses, I had my own personal mental health injury.”

Blain has struggled with mental health throughout her life, with depression as a teenager and suicidal ideation in her early twenties. In 2020, she was hospitalized and diagnosed with depression, panic disorder, and later PTSD. Talking about her struggle has been a big part of her healing journey.

Part of that healing process was to start the Dare To Be Vulnerable Project.

The Dare To Be Vulnerable Project features 48 video stories from leaders in the community who openly share their personal struggle with their mental health.

Many of the people in our world, young and old, are suffering in silence because they feel alone, fearful and ashamed. They’re scared to speak up about their mental health. They’re afraid if they speak out they are going to be misunderstood and judged unfairly.

“Study after study show that one of the best ways to address the stigma and the shame that surrounds mental health is by sharing our lived experiences; our stories,” Blain said.

The Dare To Be Vulnerable Project is about people telling stories.

“The project is about breaking the silence,” Blain said. “With Bell Let’s Talk Day, we have learned about the power of sharing your story. This project is about people sharing their journey and opening up to talk about mental health. Talking about mental health was hidden or secretive for a long time. We want to show people that talking about your mental health is cool.”

The project has been cathartic for Blain, and has helped her channel her focus on healing after suffering from mental health difficulties.

“We all have a mental health story,” Blain said. “Talking about it sets us free. Removing the silence is about saving lives.”

Blain’s project includes a series of 48 video stories that are each about 15 minutes in length.

“They are 48 courageous conversations,” Blain said. “We included people from as many backgrounds as possible.”

She added that every story has the chance to resonate with someone who sees it.

“Every story has a chance to save a life,” Blain said. “Every story will have an impact.”

One of the 48 people to share their story of mental health is Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod. She has been very open about her struggles with mental health during the 2022 provincial election.

“I am a six-term member of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament who has championed mental health awareness, suicide prevention and anti-bullying measures throughout my career,” MacLeod says in her bio for the project. “I have experienced anxiety and depression but it wasn’t until May of 2022 when I realized something more was happening to me. I spent the 2022 provincial election in crisis, in therapy and a bit of time in a hospital bed.  I have since learned I am bipolar- or as Frank Sinatra called himself ‘an 18 Carat Manic Depressive’. This was not the journey I expected, nor even want, but it’s mine and I am doing my best every day to make it a journey I can be proud of.”

MacLeod spoke at a DTBV event last month, sharing her story about her mental health journey. Having someone with MacLeod’s popularity has added to Blain’s project.

“I admire her courage,” Blain said of MacLeod. “She’s still navigating through her situation and trying to find the right medication. She has been very inspirational to a lot of people.”

MacLeod became a board member for DTBV. Blain said having the local MPP on her team is invaluable.

“There are trailblazers, and then there are trailblazers who widen the path for everyone else,” Blain said. “Lisa is a leader in the area of politics. She is using her platform to make people aware. People come out and talk about mental health because of her. She stands up for women. She is a politician, a mother, a wife, a hockey mom – people can relate to her.”

MacLeod’s inclusion in the project has significantly raised the profile of the DTBV project.

“Lisa has notoriety,” Blain said. “She is the longest standing MPP in Ottawa. When she uses her voice, people listen. I herald her courage. I’m inspired by her courage. I have seen first hand how her story can inspire others.”

For more information on the Dare To Be Vulnerable project, visit

Featured Image: Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, left, joined Susan Blain, centre, and others at a Dare to be Vulnerable luncheon in April.