A Difficult Journey
After decades of mental illness one would think Brett Charles Batten would focus on the difficult in his journey but in fact his attention is on possibilities.
A sought-after award winning speaker, Brett advocates for mental illness awareness especially when there is confusion surrounding individuals with mental illness coming into contact with the justice system. Something he understands first-hand.
Living with mental illness since the age of ten, Brett’s world has been flipped upside-down on several occasions; losing a business, a home, many assets, friends and even estrangement from his children.
In his 30s Brett landed in jail after committing a non-violent offence as a result of his mental illness. In jail he experienced a hell beyond anything he could have imagined. Brett spent ten months psychotic in and out of ranges, medical cells, and solitary confinement. His jailers did not understand the severity of his illness and Brett experienced environments which lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
After much turmoil and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Brett was found Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) and spent six years in the forensic mental health care system, two of which were spent in hospital and the remainder in the community with ongoing care and support.
Between cement walls and hospital wards Brett thought his voice would never be heard. He once wrote in a letter to his mother stating maybe in the community he would shine.
And this is where the possibilities began. After sharing some of his insight with staff members at the hospital where he received care it became evident that Brett had an astonishing gift. He could share his experiences, story and passionate opinions in a remarkable way that helps people see the human side of illness and incarceration. His written and spoken word has brought an eye-opening perspective, and often tears, to people all over including politicians, ministers, leaders, hospital staff and community members. Brett has pierced through the darkness of stigma and shone a light on a very misunderstood global issue.
A keynote speaker at conferences Brett has opened mental health care facilities, dropped the flag on expired ones, published articles and will share his story with groups and people from all walks of life. Brett’s work compellingly describes the journey through the justice system for those with mental illness. Often shocking, sometimes infuriating and frequently humorous Brett’s story is, ultimately one of hope. Brett has come face-to-face with the double stigma that surrounds people who have a mental illness and have come in contact with the law – and has obliterated it.
Beyond reverent hand shaking and pats on the back by the many people grateful to hear him, Brett has been recognized nationally for his achievements in bringing awareness to mental health care issues including the individual winner of the 2012 Mental Health Champion Award presented by the St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and the Canadian Mental Health Association in London Ontario; and the 2014 Canadian Alliance On Mental Illness and Mental Health Award in Ottawa, Ontario.
Recently married, Brett is currently working on the final stages of a book and continues to advocate and educate.
For more information on Brett Batten or to discuss a presentation please email Brett at:
Hi Brett, I came to ur site because you posted a like on mine and I believe in operating within this medium with courtesy, so I was literally ‘returning your call’ but I only keep returning when I find something I like or can learn from or share an understanding with or
when I sense an admiration for someone and want to hear more. I will be returning to your site so I thankyou for visiting mine because I have found a site I’m very interested in for a few reasons.
Thanks very much for the compliments. I am thrilled you find something for yourself on my blog. I’m not sure how I stumbled on yours but I was drawn to your eye for beauty and the meaning you arrive at. I am curious to know your reasons for interest in my blog, if it is personal disregard my curiosity. At times I wonder if I am talking to myself, your words have inspired me, thank you.
Your posts speak to me because I recognize truth and honesty in them. Thankyou for your compliments about mine. I intend to post at least once a week. I have been away for several days which is why I fell behind in my own posts.
On why your post interests me:I like and connect with what you say. It is personal at some level but I’m happy to tell you as I will no doubt mention it in ongoing posts….I’m not yet sure. I have suffered with an anxiety disorder for years. I have done loads of personal work and because I have suffered a great deal at times, I have extreme empathy for anyone with any level of mental disorder. I have never been connected with the forensic level so I can only imagine how much harder it must have been for you. I feel I lost a lot of living, dealing with panic and trying to get well but I also gained a greatly as I learned lots and I like the person I became because of it. Hope this helps and I wish you all the best. I’ll try to keep up with your posts.Also, if you feel you are talking to yourself and no-one’s listening, don’t worry, keep writing because journalling one’s tale is as much for oneself as it is for others. I think for all those blogging, many well benefit from the processing which occurs as one writes. It’s a good thing. Then, if someone tunes in and benefits from reading it, as I have from reading yours, then how much more wonderful….so….keep writing without any expectation about outcome….that is a practice in letting go and being in the moment.
Just keep believing in yourself and doing whatever it takes to get well and be the best person you can be. I believe we are all brothers and sisters on this planet and we should support each other as much as possible. Regards Leanne
Thanks so much for your honesty and encouragement. You have made me mindful of why I write. My writing began with letters home from jail and hospital. It was a way to communicate but as you mention it was helpful for me as well. At the very least I was able to disseminate and gripe about my experiences. I hope my blogging is educational and alters peoples perceptions of mental illness but I am most moved by the fact that it can personally benefit someone like yourself. I am pleased to hear you are recovering from your own struggles. We are brothers and sisters, as such consider me a companion on your path.
Thanks for visiting my blog so that I could find this wonderful blog. Looking forward for your posts.
Thanks Sreejith. Your blog challenges me, I look forward to the exchange of ideas.
Bret, I’m so pleased to meet you, and I look forward to learning more from you! Best wishes, Leslee
Hi Leslee, Nice to meet you as well. Are the jewelery creations all your own work? I’m quite impressed.
Hi, Brett, yes they are… thank you so much!
I’m working towards making them available to others, and am finding that getting online shops set up takes a bit of time! 😀
You are someone who has overcome much to now help others. I think your book should be on everyone’s reading list!
Hi, I’ve nominated you for a Sunshine Award. If you’d like to accept you can find more information here: http://yogawithmaheshwari.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/sunshine-award/
Hi Brett … so nice to meet you. Your writings have an inspiring theme. Good wishes coming your way from India 🙂
It’s nice to meet you as well. I’m happy to know you found some of my efforts inspiring. Often it is meant for me; a way of making sense of my world, I am tickled to know it translates to your part of the world. All the best from Canada. Brett
Hello Brett, thank you very much for stopping by and liking Island Vignettes. Reading your bio, I was struck at what a remarkable and brave person you are – choosing to share your story to help others, choosing to live, choosing not to let your mental health define you or your ability. Kudos to you.
Thanks so much for your comments. I am humbled. Sometimes bravery is not looking too far ahead. Looking back at things we can see how far we have traveled but it was all just footsteps in the moment.
Very true words Brett. Stay blessed.
Thanks for a great intro and an interesting website Brett. What is it exactly are you hoping to achieve, and is it achievable? I’m of the opinion that most mental health issues are out of reach of mental health professionals. Most just play nursemaid…dishing up pills and locking people up. That’s all we’re capable of because I believe that mental health issues exist beyond the reaches of this physical dimension, and our doctors don’t have a clue when it comes to anything that isn’t physically verifiable. My opinion, anyway! Thanks again for a great read on your site. It’s certainly worth following.
I have looked at my own journey and mental illness along the lines of a spiritual journey which I think you are referring to. I would argue that anti-psychotics were necessary. My illness lead me to believe I was the Second Coming which although a spiritual pinnacle was not helpful to myself or anyone else. I do think though that we can all turn water into wine to an extent.
Reaching out to others and sharing my story is important in providing hope and reducing stigma. When I share, peoples minds are opened enough to allow a part of me to displace old notions. If people can accept me on some level it is my hope that they can do the same for others. Many who suffer from mental illness are misunderstood and cast aside. We walk around with labels on our tongues and misconceptions in our minds. If I can lend my story to change minds it is my hope it will eventually open hearts. When we can change how a person feels it can sometimes change how they think.
Thank you for your reply Brett. I think you will open people’s minds. As for the Second-Coming complex, I’ve experienced something similar, though not nearly as dramatic. I feel that our individual spiritual journey manifests this way because it is a huge ‘happening’ in our psyche that has no place in the narrow confines of the human brain. We receive such huge info and don’t know what to do with it, so we end up as ‘Messiahs’. Perhaps Jesus and other prophets had similar issues, who knows. It’s just a thought. I didn’t need drugs, just a slap about the head. I do think that drugs help the brain from burning up from the electrical impulses that come in, but too much dulls the senses. anyway, Brett, I look forward to further reading. Lots of love.
Hi , \ I have nominated you for the Reality
The rules are at
Thanks very much for the nomination. Having lived outside of reality I find it interesting to be nominated for the Reality Blog Award. If my gaze falls on reality it is partly due to the fact that I saw the other side of it. Many thanks and know that your visit my award.
your welcome, but i ensure you that your totally inside reality, your posts always make me look at life in a way i never did before, for me your totally in reality
Thanks Hasan, If we all looked at things the same way the world would be boring but if we started looking at the same things differently the world would change. Your remarks mean a lot to me but I should point out that if we see something the same way it could mean we’re both insane. Cheers, Brett
Blessings in your efforts to blog and educate and encourage others. Appreciate your visit to my blog and hope your walk in life brings you much joy and love. Shalom
Thank you very much for your kind words. I have joy and love in my life but will use your hope to find more. Blessings to you.
Thanks for stopping by to visit me today! It’s so nice to ‘meet’ you!
Your journey has been an interesting one and I’m looking forward to reading more of what you have to say.
Thanks Denise, it is nice to meet you as well. Thanks so much for all the comments on my posts. It pleases me to know you found something of value in a few. Brett
Fascinating bio. I stopped by because of a comment on my music blog. After reading the most recent entry, I’ve decided I like what I see and plan to keep coming back. We have an autistic daughter (high functioning), so are a little familiar with the lack of good progress in the mental health field. Our older daughter is studying psychology, working on a master’s and doctorate at University of North Texas, with a goal of being a clinical psychologist.
Thanks Jeff, congratulations on your efforts with your daughters. It sounds like they are both thriving. Some people may be “self made” but my life has had many good hands in it. I look forward to interacting with you on WordPress. Brett
Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog Brett.
Thank you for sharing your story with the world. For opening our eyes and making us think.
Thanks very much for taking the time to comment. Your kind words are important as you can appreciate as a blogger yourself. Wishing you the best and strength for the rest. Brett