Laurie Edmundson has worked tirelessly to advance the patient voice to help improve health care services, both across BC and internationally. Because of her ability to vulnerably share her own story about navigating borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other mental health challenges, she has inspired others and helped shape the way services are delivered.
Laurie was the first youth with lived experience to lead a local action team (LAT) for Surrey/North Delta as part of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative, funded by the Doctors of BC and the provincial government.
“This is where I first met Laurie,” says Linda Uyeda about that 2015 meeting. “As a family physician in Surrey, I joined the collaborative to try to improve services to youth within our community. Since that time, Laurie has presented with me at countless mental health presentations and workshops, to give listeners a chance to hear the patient perspective and to learn and grow from this.”
Linda says Laurie is able to share what it is like to live with serious mental health challenges for many patients who cannot vocalize their concerns for various reasons (for example, severe mental illness, intellectual disability, and anxiety). She has helped to educate Linda and her staff around the patient perspective, which has resulted in a shift in how they understand and respond to patients in their care.
“She is extremely articulate, being able to clearly explain her thoughts and feelings around her experiences in a way that touches those she is teaching,” Linda says. “She is able to help them understand what helped along her journey to wellness as well as what hindered her. Her words and experiences helped our staff understand why we need a different approach to providing care to vulnerable patients who come to us in times of great distress.”
Laurie is the co-host of a podcast called ‘Bold Beautiful Borderline,’ designed to support and educate patients, families and their treatment teams about BPD and reduce stigma around the diagnosis. She has built a following in over 120 countries around the world and has produced over 160 episodes which feature other people living with borderline personality disorder.
“The work of the CYMHSU Collaborative came to an end in 2017 but its legacy and all that we learned during the collaborative has continued on. The stories and advocacy Laurie contributed helped to shape the direction of this work going forward,” Linda says. “She has supported other youth in learning how to share their stories to advocate for changes within the health and education systems.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving than her to be acknowledged for all of her dedication and hard work in these areas. She is an amazing young woman and I can’t wait to see where her path leads.”