Challenges and Advantages of Dealing with a Disability                                                                                            or Mental Illness in a Small Town vs. a Large City

The speaker will illustrate the different types of stigma experienced by people with mental illness and examine whether living in a rural or urban community makes life easier for them. A large percentage of homeless people have mental illness and are found in bigger cities, however research indicate that per capita, mental illness occur equally in rural settings where very little homelessness appear. Do people with mental illness gravitate to large population centers?
Speaker: Dr. Austin Mardon

Austin Mardon was born in Edmonton but raised in Lethbridge where he finished his degree at the University of Lethbridge. While an undergraduate geography student, he was accepted as a field scientist on the ASMET NSF/NASA sponsored Antarctic meteorite recovery expedition. His descent into mental illness slowly started after he returned from Antarctica suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was able to complete two additional graduate degrees in the USA before suffering a complete breakdown, and was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia. The first thing Austin was told after being diagnosed was that his life was over. However it was not, as he continued on to finish a distance PhD and then established Prosper Place Clubhouse in Edmonton, a place where adults with mental illness can safely learn to live with their illness. He has also served on numerous committees and boards. Currently he serves on the Premier’s Council on the status of persons with disabilities and the Alberta College of social workers.

Dr. Mardon received the order of Canada in 2007 and has received high awards from SSC and CMHA. This year he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta and the Medal of Honor, highest award for a non physician, from the CMA. Austin Mardon and his father Ernest have collaborated writing several books on Alberta’s history. He lives in Edmonton with his wife Catherine and his Bassett hound Gandy.

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