Peer Support Worker, Consultant
STAR Learning Centre
Toronto Ontario CANADA
Jesse Bigelow leads peer support groups and is an outspoken advocate for persons discriminated and stigmatized due to mental illness. Jesse’s drive and passion comes from first-hand experience, as he was first diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 19. Navigating the mental health system alone was hit or miss – some services helped, and some did not. Jesse states that “My family and I did the best we could to find help, but accessing the mental health system can be a real challenge”. Today Jesse takes his experiences, and uses them to help families and individuals cope with mental health issues. Jesse helps educate and increase awareness about mental illness. He is now a support worker for the homeless at the STAR Learning centre at Regent Park in Toronto. Jesse is a frequent speaker and communicator on mental patient advocacy and support, coping strategies, motivation for illness management and demonstrating lived experience with mental illness. Jesse has regularly presented at the University of Toronto. He currently is a consultant and lived experience champion in the design and development process of A4i: the App for Independence, a digital health solution for patient and caregiver engagement and illness self-management for schizophrenia patients. In this panel, Jesse will host a session entitled “Feature richness– balancing between paucity and overabundance” to address the genuine and deep dissonance between the needs and requirements felt by a patient with regard to digital health solutions, and by the apparent and perceived needs as observed by clinicians and solution developers. Jesse will address the balance between solutions that are gadgets of limited utility and products that are byzantine systems with a host of unneeded features. His is an account of the realities of day-to-day coping with schizophrenia, and how digital health can help or hinder those efforts.
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