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