Mark Henick

Mark Henick

Mental Health Advocate and Strategist | Top 50 TEDx Speaker

With over six million views, Mark Henick’s TEDx talk, “Why We Choose Suicide,” is among the most watched in the world. His story of searching for “the man in the light brown jacket” who saved his life from a teenage suicide attempt captured global attention, and when he learned of products being sold on Amazon that promoted suicide, his successful online petition to have them removed garnered tens of thousands of signatures. Henick has dedicated his life from an early age to opening minds and creating change. His talks are informed by his direct experience with stigma and the mental health care system, and he brings his diverse and unique perspective to every audience as someone who has been a patient, a professional, a policy influencer, and a public figure in the mental health system.

Henick is currently the Principal and CEO of a boutique consulting firm that helps individuals, companies, and governments to move strategically from awareness to action in improving mental health and wellness. He was previously the National Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), and, prior to that, served as the youngest president of a provincial CMHA division in history, the youngest ever member of the board of directors for Canada’s Mental Health Commission, and as a national spokesperson for the Faces of Mental Illness campaign. He has also worked as a frontline mental health counsellor, and as the manager of a national workplace mental health training program.

Henick has appeared in hundreds of television, radio, print, and online media features on mental health. His work has been featured in such outlets as CTV National News, Entertainment Tonight, the Toronto Star, The New York Daily News, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, and Reader’s Digest. He has had bylines with CNN, The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. The memoir of his experiences, So-Called Normal, was released in January 2021.

Henick holds a Master of Science in child development; a Bachelor of Arts with interdisciplinary honours in psychology and philosophy; and has certificates in trauma counselling, suicide intervention, non-violent crisis intervention, mental health first aid, and knowledge exchange.

A Moment on the Edge: How Small Encounters Change Lives

By the time he found himself standing on the edge of a bridge late one night, a teenager ready to die, Mark Henick had lost all hope. A culmination of encounters over time — with doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, parents, and peers — had left him feeling trapped, broken, and helpless. If it wasn’t for an anonymous stranger who reached out and saved his life, Henick never would have left that bridge alive. But he did, and he has dedicated his life ever since to opening minds and creating change.

In this, his most personal and most popular talk, Henick shares the stories of what brought him to the edge, what would have helped, and what didn’t. He retells the moment that changed his life forever, as well as the quest that followed to find the stranger who saved him — and to find himself.

Inspired by his viral Top 50 TEDx talk “Why We Choose Suicide”, and updated with what happened next — his journey that captured global media attention to find “the man in the light brown jacket” who saved his life — Henick explores the power of connection, even in brief moments, to change our paths forever. This raw, emotional, and at turns unexpectedly funny story of survival and grit culminates in an inspirational message that motivates audiences to get off the sidelines and to be the stranger who reaches out, even if only for a moment.

Prioritizing Mental Health in Challenging Times

Internationally recognized mental health advocate Mark Henick shares insight and practical strategies to help prioritize and look after your mental health in the exceptional circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our work and home lives were completely upended and surrounded with a constant haze of stress and anxiety. Through this presentation, Henick creates an open dialogue on managing mental well-being and self-care during a difficult time, and helps audiences learn how to prioritize their mental health.

Topics covered include maintaining routines and structuring your day, healthy sleep and diet, managing anxiety, combating loneliness, staying connected, and more.

The New Basics of Mental Health

One in five people will directly experience a mental health problem or illness each year. By middle age, a full half of the population will have experienced at least one of these challenges, and the large majority of them report that they can trace the onset to their youth.

What are these mental health problems and illnesses that so many people are facing? Why are people waiting so long to get help? How do people recover and go on to find meaning and purpose? These are just some of the questions that Mark Henick addresses in his progressive, inclusive approach to understanding mental health.

Informed by his interdisciplinary education, and his professional training and experience working with multidisciplinary teams, Henick gives audiences a better understanding of the basics of an integrated, biopsychosocial model of mental health. He goes beyond the simplistic “chemical imbalance” theory, and challenges participants to think about how their brains, thoughts, and environments all interact with one another in the real world. Henick leaves audiences with some practical takeaways for how changing any one of those components can trigger a chain reaction toward either problems and illnesses or recovery and growth.

The Mentally Healthy Campus

The onset of 70% of all mental health problems and illnesses occurs before or during young adulthood. Adverse childhood experiences, socioeconomic factors, bullying, and genetics are just some of the things that contribute to these struggles. With college and university campus populations being mostly made up of young adults, how we recognize and support both students and faculty who may be dealing with these issues is vital to the health of the whole community.

In his campus-tailored talk, Mark Henick draws upon his education and professional training in child development and mental health, his years as a student leader, and his personal experiences as a young person in the mental health system. Henick brings these experiences together to help audiences, both on-campus and those doing work related to them, to grow their awareness and understanding of this critical period of transition and growth. Henick then goes beyond only awareness, toward real, measurable action, by providing strategies for how to build and support a mentally healthy campus culture.

The Mentally Healthy Workplace

Whatever your job, ignoring the mental health of your workplace is bad for business.

Most people spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else. However, two thirds of employees are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace. In any given week, hundreds of thousands of employees are off work due to a mental health problem or illness, with depression alone being the single largest contributor to years lived with disability. Yet, only about a quarter of people would feel comfortable talking to their employer about a mental illness.

However, evidence from around the world is growing and convincing: promotion, prevention, and early intervention initiatives for workplace mental health show positive returns on investment.

So how do we create, turn around, or further improve the mental health and safety of our workplace? What are the most current best and promising practices for supporting employee health and productivity? Where do you start, how do you take it to the next level, and what resources, tools, and training are available to help?

To answer these questions and more, Mark Henick draws upon his years of personal and professional experience in mental health, including managing a national workplace mental health training program and running a corporate mental health strategy consulting firm. He helps employers, employees, unions, and professional associations to clarify their needs, in a manner tailored to their role in their specific workplace.

In this presentation — offered as a keynote or expanded as a half-day or full-day interactive workshop — Henick helps audiences to better understand what works and what doesn’t in supporting employee mental health. He provides insights on implementing effective workplace mental health strategies, and calls on every employee at every level to play an active role.

Henick brings his personal passion for mental health to every presentation because he firmly believes that supporting the mental health of your workforce is more than a smart business decision.

It’s the right thing to do.