Student dedicates career to dispelling myths about schizophrenia

posted in: Personal Stories, Role models | 0

When Leonard Reynen was diagnosed with schizophrenia, at age 18, he thought his life was over.

The Algonquin College public relations student had seen what the mental illness had meant for the lives of his two uncles. One died by suicide, another is in care at the Royal Ottawa.

“I thought I was going to have to reside in a mental health facility or end up dead or homeless.”

But, despite some struggles, that has not been his storyline. And that is one reason the 27-year-old is speaking out about living with schizophrenia: to help dispel the many myths and help others to know they are not alone.


Reynen said he knows there are many people who, like him, struggle with mental illness, which is why he is being public about his struggles.

“Not everyone with an illness is in a position where they have the capability to speak about it,” he said. “That is why I got into public relations. I knew I didn’t have it in me to be a social worker or a doctor, but I can write and speak relatively well. I figured I would use those skills to help people with mental health challenges.”

Last year, Reynen’s convinced his fellow public relations students to support the schizophrenia program at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre as part of a classroom campaign.