Born and raised in Fort Erie, Ontario, Bill?s first career evolved from what initially began as a favorite childhood pastime: swimming. At the age of 19, Bill was working in Singapore as a commercial scuba diver on oil rigs in the South China Sea. The future looked bright for a man already living his dream. But five years later, Bill was living a nightmare. Pacing a psychiatric ward, trapped in a world of illusions, delusions, paranoia and depression, Bill was out of reality (in psychosis); he was 24 years old and diagnosed with schizophrenia. The diagnosis provided an explanation for his erratic and dangerous behavior, but it also spelled the end of Bill?s life as he knew it. He lost his friends, his home, and his will to live. He spent five years lying on his parents?couch, watching TV and contemplating ways to commit suicide. He tried once. After six hospitalizations and time spent in three separate group homes, Bill knew something had to change if he ever wanted to triumph over the disease and regain control of his life.
With the help of medication, therapy, and the support of his family and a new network of friends, Bill took slow but steady steps on the road to recovery. He embraced new opportunities by volunteering and getting involved with community projects. He took an interest in local politics and sat in on regular town council meetings held at the local public library. It was there that Bill noticed a book that would change his life: ?101 Ways To Start a Business With Little or No Capital.?Intrigued, he paged through the book and was drawn to a story about a woman who, before the advent of VCRs, set up three separate television sets to watch three different soap operas each day. She then started a newsletter for her working friends to keep them updated on the story lines of each. The concept sparked an idea for Bill Within a year, Bill launched his business, Magpie Publishing Inc., and published his first Canadian issue of SZ Magazine, a quarterly magazine intended to bring hope and information to people affected by schizophrenia. In 2008 he added a new magazine called Anchor to aid in the recovery of those with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders. Since Magpie?s debut in 1994, Bill has prided himself on his work as a mental health advocate to help those who struggle with schizophrenia, just as he once did. In addition to producing SZ Magazine, Bill travels throughout North America to give inspirational talks about how he pulled himself from the depths of depression to become the successful businessman, husband and father he is today. Bill is also the focus of Canadian film maker Mark Ashdown?s 2009 film, Life After Mental Illness: The Story of Bill MacPhee, which not only highlights Bill?s life with schizophrenia, but the stigma attached to the illness as well. In 2014, with the help of co-writer John Mowat, Bill released his heavily anticipated personal biography To Cry a Dry Tear: Bill MacPhee?s journey of hope and recovery with schizophrenia. This book will take you on Bill?s open, honest and fascinating journey from the depths of mental illness and into the bright future of his recovery.
For the past 20 years Bill has lived and breathed recovery. Bill has been speaking at and attending numerous conference and workshops dealing with mental health. He has spent many years drawing best practices from those with mental illness, their caregivers, and other professionals. With Bill?s exposure and first-hand experience he has become a leader in the field who is highly respected in mental health recovery circles. Bill travels North America to help educate others on mental health recovery, and to help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness.
Bill MacPhee has received the following awards, recognizing his dedication to mental health recovery:
2012 National Council Reintegration Award (Mentorship) ? Celebrating the achievements of those in the community who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of individuals with serious mental illnesses, and the achievements of those living with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who battle tremendous odds to improve their own lives and the lives of their peers.
2011 Kaiser Foundation National Awards for Excellence-Media Reporting ? A national program honouring the outstanding work being done by Canadian organizations, communities and individuals who are engaged in the fields of mental health and addictions.
2009 Transforming Lives Award (Center for Addiction and Mental Health) ? CAMH Foundation honours extraordinary individuals who face mental illness and addiction with dignity and perseverance. By sharing their stories, award recipients and nominees alike help break down the stigma that surrounds mental illness and addiction.
2007 Ontario Psychiatric Association Theodore Allen Sweet Award ? Presented annually for outstanding service to the mental health system in Ontario.
2005 National Alliance on Mental Illness New York State Distinguished Media Award(NAMI) ?
Presented annually to editors, producers, reporters, writers or actors who address issues or themes involving mental illness with accuracy, fairness, and compassion
2005 FAME (Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere) Award ? Awarded annually to welcome new Honorary Members
2004 National Alliance on Mental Illness Lionel Aldridge Award ? Honouring those who show courage, leadership and service to a person living with mental illness
2002 Golden Jubilee Medal of Queen Elizabeth II ? Awarded in Canada to nominees who positively contribute to public life.
2001 Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year Award ? Recognizing economic, social, educational, and environmental achievements in the Niagara Region.
2001 Canadian Mental Health Association Media Award ? Honouring those in the media who have made outstanding contributions to the coverage of mental health issues.
1996 Lieutenant Governor of Ontario?s Community Action Award ? Honouring those who are furthering the rights of people who have a disability and promoting accessible, inclusive communities.