IT STARTS WITH ONE STEP...
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Paulie O'Byrne is a force to be reckoned with. Believing it's possible to smash the stigma, have a new conversation within our home, and ultimately change the game for those affected by mental illness and addiction, Paulie O'Byrne created the "I'm 1 in 5" Movement.
After attending Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario, O'Byrne became a Canadian Certified Hockey Coach with over 14 years experience playing the game competitively. In 2006, a dream coaching position opened and O'Byrne went for it. Three days later he had landed the job. With hope and determination, O'Byrne truly believed this was going to be the start of his new coaching career, allowing him to follow his dreams he had worked so hard for.
Unfortunately, his career took a turn for the worse before it even began and ultimately changed his life forever. Depression, anxiety and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) soon consumed his life after being sexually assaulted by the President of the Minor Hockey Association in Delhi, Ontario. A devastating point in his life that should've been an exciting new beginning, now guided him into years of drug abuse and multiple suicide attempts.
"I choose my own attitude from strength and pain."
Miraculously, after many counselors, treatment centers, and more, O'Byrne walked in the doors of one last place and was greeted immediately with sincerity and an understanding. A place that thankfully inspired him to heal, to reach for more, and more importantly, let him know that he was not alone. Their kind words and support inspired the creation of his vastly growing not-for- profit organization, I'm 1 in 5.
His tenacity, courage, strength, and personal story, have empowered over 100,000 people at his many speaking engagements as well as on social media to speak up and take action on some of the most difficult topics to talk about in our community and our home. He has been featured in the news, on the radio and in film across six continents.
"I envision a world where all men, women, and children—even in the remote areas of Canada— gain strength from the inevitable pain in life, and have the power to create healing and recovery for themselves and others through Awareness, Prevention and Education."
After coaching a Junior B team in Calgary, Alberta in 2012 to a City and League Championship, O'Byrne now leads a steady career hosting speaking engagements about his road to recovery and living with mental illness.
I'm 1 in 5 has now gained national recognition for awareness from some of Canada's most well known, including former NHL hockey player Theoren Fleury and Sean McCann, co-founder of the Canadian band Great Big Sea, who credits Paulie with his own public disclosure of the abuse he suffered as a youth. But this is only the beginning for Paulie O’Byrne and his campaign, every day is a new challenge and a new start.
"I want to inspire and continue to grow, each and every day. Because it is possible TOGETHER."
"Survivor to stick handle across the country"
-London Free Press. April 7, 2015
"How Séan McCann beat back demons and saved his own life"
- CBC.ca January 16, 2015
"Sean McCann Speaks Out on Sexual Abuse Suffered as a Child"
- Christian Reforms. Oct 4, 2013
- greatbigsea.com. Oct 1, 2014
"Between a great big sea and the wolf at the door"
- London Community News. Sept 27, 2014
"#GetInTouchForHutch raises $50,000"
- The Wellington Advisor. July 4, 2014
"Taking dead aim at illegal drugs"
- London Free Press. June 20, 2014
"London sexual assault victim to face abuser in court"
- Metro News. June 9, 2014
"With Theoren Fleury’s help, sex abuse victim hopes to stick-handle ball across country"
- Metro News. August 19, 2012
"Former Delhi minor hockey official given house arrest for sex assault"
- Brantford Expositor. Jan 9, 2008
We envision a world where all men, women, and children -- even in the most remote areas of Canada -- gain strength from the inevitable pain of life, and have the power to create healing and recovery for themselves and others through Awareness, Prevention, and Education.
I’m 1in5 is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the one in five Canadians affected by addiction, mental illness, trauma, and victimization. We strive to provide equal opportunity for healing to people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, or experience. Paulie wanted to start a conversation about his experiences with his friends and felt this was the best way to do it. I’m 1in5 has gained national recognition for awareness from some of Canada’s most well known: Sean McCann, co-founder of the Canadian band Great Big Sea, credits Paulie with his own public disclosure of the abuse he suffered as a youth. Paulie has worked with sexual abuse and mental health advocates, as well as former NHL hockey player Theoren Fleury. There is a stigmatizing silence in Canada when it comes to mental health and abuse, and our goal is to smash that stigma. This stigma keeps people sick for far too long.
Little did I know the person I was going to meet when I went to Arthur last June (2014) for the Get In Touch For Hutch event would become a big part of my life. I listened to this incredible young man give his story about pain, struggle, loss of self, suicide attempts, addiction, hitting rock bottom and then reaching out to change his life. Paulie O’Byrne was that young man. It was amazing to hear him identify himself as that “1 in 5” who is affected by mental illness, yet has taken that ‘statistic’ and made it the most positive motivator in his life. Paulie has been an incredible inspiration to me since I first met him and we share a number of his messages through social media. We had the honour of him participating in our Battle For Mental Health charity hockey game over the Christmas break as a player and speaker. His message was well received by the audience attending and we are looking forward to him attending the Owen Sound Attack Jr A Mental Health game on March 8th. Paulie is going to be joining us for the puck drop! WES For Youth Online is thrilled to be associated wth Paulie and especially his messages concerning men and young men’s mental health. We will continue to promote his I’m1in5 cross Canada Tour, sponsor some kilometres and hopefully join him for a portion along the way.
Yolanda Cameron, Co-Founder WES For Youth Online.
Paulie & I met through a mutual friend. When I finally had the chance to talk to him personally I had no idea the impact that his story would have on me. Paulie is young man who has endured much in his life. What I saw in that first meeting, albeit how devastating his story is, was a guy who has survived and who has the will to conquer. Paulie & I both share the love of sports - hockey specifically, but we have another connection through the heart and that is through the experience of tragedy. The journey of our despair, has motivated us to find causes that we are dedicated to trying to make a difference for others; to encourage others to find their voice when they might not otherwise find the strength without us sharing our stories first. Paulie very bravely shared his story at our annual fundraising event last year. The impact was visible through verbal and written feedback but could also be seen through responses portrayed through the facial expressions of our participants, their eyes and their body language. You are changing lives Paulie. Keep on keeping on! Wishing you all the very best on your upcoming tour.
Founder -Get In Touch For Hutch-