Johnston: Nurses, lawyers can shape society for the better


For her distinguished medical career, Sharon Johnston, author and wife of Canada’s Governor General, David Johnston, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa, at the Wednesday afternoon session of Western’s 309th Convocation.

Johnston spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Faculty Health Sciences and the Faculty of Law, thanking them for pursuing “honourable” careers in jurisprudence and nursing, both of which have the potential to positively affect Canadians struggling with mental health.

As lawyers, judges, policy makers and health professionals, it will be up to you to “shape our society for the better,” Johnston said.

Mental-health issues affect one in five Canadians every year, she added, but if we count the impact of mental health, everyone is affected. She needed to muster courage 40 years ago, to ask for help when she felt she couldn’t cope with having five daughters in a span of seven years, Johnston said. But progress has been made towards reducing stigma and barriers to accessing help.

“There is nothing wrong with needing psychological help; what’s wrong is not asking for it. We all have a role to play,” she continued. “As lawyers, judges, nurses, you will be respected leaders. You will be able to support, help, advise, direct and encourage people with mental-health issues in your careers.”

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