Borderline... What? - a message of hope

Originally created in collaboration with Blaise Aguirre from McLean Hospital, CAMH and NEABPD, our presentation is aimed at eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health with a specific focus on BPD and suicide prevention. In addition to a moving rendition of Sasha's story we discuss symptoms of emotional dysregulation that is a cornerstone of both BPD and teenage angst.

Since 2012, The Sashbear team has presented to close to 8000 high school students at various schools around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Our presentation consists of:

  • Destigmatizing mental illness
  • Sharing Sasha's story
  • Raising awareness on mental health issues
  • Introducing hints and tips that are useful to manage emotions including effective coping and validation techniques
  • Encouraging students to seek help if they are struggling or know someone who is

During our 60 minute presentation we keep students engaged by using video, music, live presentation and role plays. We also offer a presentation tailored to staff and/or parents. .

Our ultimate goal with this project is to have DBT skills taught in schools! See DBT in schools for more details on why we believe this would be useful.



Feedback from presentations has been incredible

Feedback from both students and staff about the presentation has been truly beyond expectations. Here are some of the comments we received:

"Thank you so much for a great presentation on BPD. Everyone I talked to had positive comments/feedback. O'Connor is very fortunate to be the first to host a presentation on this Mental Disorder that is not well known or talked about and start the WAVE of Awareness. The presentation is very informative, educational and deep. When you capture the attention of 300 hundred students then you know that you are on the right track." - from Senator O'Connor staff

"Very moving presentation. Very informative and detailed. It’s great that you guys are doing this so people know what stigma is. Thank you so much." - from Senator O'Connor student


Here's an actual summary of feedback from a single presentation to 240 students. Our presentations are connecting with students, the best validation we can get about our work.

In addition to receiving great feedback we have also received many great questions from students during these presentations. Please click FAQ to see answers to some of these questions. Thanks to Dr. Blaise Aguirre for taking the time to answer all of the initial questions we received.


Next presentation:

November 23, 2016 - Kipling Collegiate Institute - students


Presentations to date:

Here's a list of the school presentations we have done so far:

  • December 8 2015 - Hollycrest Middle School, Toronto - staff, students, parents. First presentation in middle schools.

  • October 27 2015 - Silverthorn Collegiate, Toronto - students

  • April 28 2015 - Cedarvale Community School, Toronto - Mindfulness Workshop presentation to kids in JK to Grade 3 followed by a presentation to kids in Grade 4 to 8

  • February 26 2015 - 16th Annual George Brown Mental Health Conference, Toronto

  • December 5 2014 - Madonna, Toronto - staff

  • December 2 2014 - Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton, Toronto - students.

    Click here for pictures.

  • May 13 2014 - Blessed Cardinal Carter, Toronto - students

  • May 12 2014 - University Of Toronto Scarborough Campus - students

  • May 7 2014 - Senator O'Connor, Toronto - students

  • May 6 2014 - Blyth Academy, Toronto - school staff

  • May 5 2014 - Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, Toronto - students

  • April 22 2014 - Jean Vanier, Toronto - students

  • April 29 2014 - Silverthorn Community School, Toronto - school staff

  • April 22 2014 - Jean Vanier, Toronto - students

  • April 10 2014 - Michael Power / St. Joseph, Toronto - parents

  • April 8 2014 - Michael Power / St. Joseph, Toronto - students - covered by CBC News on TV

  • March 25 2014 - Monsignor Percy Johnson, Toronto - students

  • February 26 2014 - The Hincks Dellcrest Centre - school staff, and outreach workers

  • December 2 2013 - The Hincks Dellcrest Centre - parents

  • November 28 2013 - TCDSB Mental Health Symposium 

  • October 3 - 4th 2013 - University of Toronto Scarborough Campus

  • May 10 2013 - Monsignor Percy Johnson, Toronto - brief intro of validation to staff

  • May 6 2013 - Monsignor Percy Johnson, Toronto - students

  • May 1 2013 - Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, Toronto - students

  • March 5 2013 - Herzing College, Police Foundation students

  • November 1 2012 - Silverthorn Collegiate, Toronto - students

  • October 15 2012 - Senator O'Connor, Toronto - students with ESPN in attendance!

  • May 11 2012 - White Oaks, Oakville - students with Dr Blaise Aguirre from Boston McLean

  • May 7 2012 - Monsignor Percy Johnson, Toronto - students

  • May 1 2012 - Senator O'Connor, Toronto - students


If you would like us to present at your school please contact us by emaling us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We are always looking for new opportunities to make waves on BPD!


Here's some information about our first three presentations in the Spring of 2012, where it all began...


Presentation at White Oaks Secondary School!

On May 11 2012 we had the pleasure of presenting at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville Ontario in the greater Toronto area. For this presentation our keynote speaker was Dr. Blaise Aguirre from McLean Hospital in Boston. Dr Aguirre is an expert in child, adolescent and adult psychotherapy and is widely recognized for his extensive work in the treatment of mood and personality disorders in adolescents. Dr Aguirre and the sashbear team delivered once again an emotional and educational presentation to an audience of more than 500 students.

We want to thank the school administration, all the students that participated and our own sashbear team with special thanks to Nicole who is a student at White Oaks for making this presentation possible.

Dr. Blaise Aguirre joins the wave!


The Sashbear team at White Oaks Secondary School


Presentation at Monsignor Percy Johnson!

On May 7 2012, the Sashbear team was invited to present "Borderline What? a message of hope" to grade 10 students at Monsignor Percy Johnson in Toronto. We were received with warmth and enthusiasm by students, teachers and administration alike including the "Stop the Stigma" team. A great article about this presentation entitled Parents of teen lost to BPD encourage students to defeat stigma of mental illness was published on Inside Toronto shortly after. Thank you again to our whole team and all those who contributed to make this event a great success! Once again we received great feedback and questions from students. The answers to these are posted here.

Here are a few pictures from this event:

Post-presentation ceremony

Post presentation ceremony

Sashbear team at Monsignor Percy Johnson 

MPJ Team


Our first presentation at Senator O'Connor College School!

On May 1 2012, at Senator O’Connor College School in Toronto, we delivered our very first presentation of "Borderline....what? a message of hope". The reception from the audience of grade 11 and 12 students was incredible and really validated the importance and relevance of the work we are doing. This presentation was a major milestone in our efforts to create a wave of awareness about emotion regulation disorder and suicide prevention. Students and teachers gave us great feedback and questions. Answers to these questions as well as others are posted here.

We want to thank from the bottom of our heart the school administration, teachers and students and especially the "Stop the stigma" team. Of course, let’s not forget to thank our wonderful Sashbear team of volunteers who worked so hard at putting together an impressive presentation described as both emotional and informative. It was truly a team effort, mission accomplished!!

Closing remarks by Lynn Courey and Mike Menu

The Sashbear team at Senator O'Connor

The team present at OCS


  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better...
  • Let's remove stigma from mental illness and Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • We are all in this together, you are not alone...
  • Validation before problem solving...
  • Emotion Regulation Disorder is the new name for Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • Let's teach DBT skills in schools...
  • Let's intervene, let's intervene early...
  • Show me compassion and empathy first, don't just tell me how to change
  • Let go of judgments and believe in me so that I can believe in myself
  • Accept me so that I can better accept myself
  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better next time
  • Take care of yourself then you can attend to others
  • Be mindful - Observe, describe, participate effectively
  • Observe your own emotions rise and that of others, pause then engage effectively
  • Strive to be wise, not just rational or emotional
  • Change what you can, accept what you cannot
  • Validation is not agreement
  • Validate, Validate Validate
  • Be supportive, let go of judgements
  • We can't control having strong emotions but we can change how we respond to them
  • Hope is everything and is always there even when I cannot see it
  • BPD is more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder combined 6%
  • The suicide rate of BPD victims is 400 times that of general population
  • BPD is the third leading killer of young women between the ages of 15-24
  • 1 of 5 seek help, 4 of 5 benefit from treatment
  • 4,000 young people die by suicide per year in Canada
  • I am not the disorder. I am a person
  • Stop the Stigma - by Speaking Up
  • Living with BPD is like not having an emotional skin
  • Genetic vulnerabilities and invalidating environment could lead to BPD
  • Breathe
  • Mindfulness is not what you think
  • Mindfulness is being present moment to moment
  • Mindfulness is just observing, paying attention to non-judgement
  • Patience, trust, non-striving and acceptance
  • Mindfulness does not come by takes practice
  • Let your breath be your anchor to observe thoughts as they arise
  • Observe thoughts as they come and go like waves on the ocean
  • Pay attention to what you are actually paying attention to
  • What we frequently think we become
  • Turning my auto-pilot off
  • Only that day dawns to which we are awake - Thoreau Walden
  • It is a radical act of love to just just down and be quiet for a time by YOURSELF
  • You are HERE!
  • Make each moment count!
  • I am a valuable part of all that EXISTS
  • I am Love. ALL is Love
  • The practice of mindfulness is not to follow your heart but to train your heart
  • It's OK, let it be
  • Smile at thoughts, they are empty. The only power thoughts have is the power you give them
  • The benefit will come to your life with consistent mindfulness practice everyday
  • Whatever you do to make it mindful!
  • Kindness is pure wisdom
  • Mindfulness is free or craving, want or hate
  • Be gentle to yourself as well as others
  • When you feel connected to someone that connection gives you purpose
  • Practice kindness whenever possible. It's always possible - Dalai Lama