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A speaker, mother, widow, and award-winning volunteer, Susan Hess speaks from the heart of real life experience.  She moves audiences to both laughter and tears with stories about bringing up a child with mental illness.

While others ask what can be done about “out-of-control” kids, sad kids or angry kids, Susan is providing answers and changing lives.

Choose from among Susan’s distinctive, informative, motivational and inspirational presentations.  If you live or work with children in any way, you will gain fresh insight and understanding from Susan’s presentation.


Please don’t forget my daughter: Stories behind the Quilt of Honour

A strong advocate on behalf of children with mental health problems, Susan uses the Quilt of Honour as a visible testament to all children who struggle with mental illness.  Susan shares the compelling stories of the children on the Quilt of Honour, including her own daughter’s journey from chaotic violent illness to award-winning volunteer.

The stories of the children who are featured on the Quilt of Honour emphasize the importance of mental health services, treatments and supports for the child as well as the family.

Stigma: We Can, We Will, We Must

A gripping presentation about how stigma affects people’s reactions to traumatic illness or tragedy in the lives of others.  Drawing from her family’s experience with suicide, cancer, and mental illness, Susan tells what stigma looks like, its impact on people’s lives, and how to overcome stigma in yourself and others.

A note for high schools:

Susan has developed a special stigma presentation suitable for teenage audiences.  Working with selected student leaders, she presents an interactive demonstration of the impact of bullying, name-calling and labeling.  Susan’s no-holds-barred approach holds the students’ interest and helps them understand clearly the reality of stigma and how to triumph over it. Students have said, “Thank you for telling our story.

Zero Tolerance

School is both the social and work environment for children.  Using examples from her daughter’s experiences at school, and her own knowledge as a teacher, Susan distinguishes between discipline and punishment in the schools, and how those terms might have different applications for children with mental health problems.  The presentation includes practical suggestions for educators on recognizing and nurturing children with mental health problems.


Coping with mental illness tears families apart, destroys lives, and plunges survivors into darkness. Children and families can become victims, adapt and survive.  By following a small light of hope and finding the fragments of joy, Susan Hess tells the story of how she held herself and her family together and brought them successfully into a new life.  In this presentation, Susan inspires her audience to believe that finding the light in the darkness is not only possible, but the only choice.

From Here to There: Parent Mobilization

Susan outlines the steps taken to develop the Quilt of Honour Campaign and expand it into a model of parent mobilization that works.  From an idea to presentations to workshops, Susan talks about the vision, the risks and the results of giving parents a voice.

Workshop: Caring for the Caregiver

This workshop is especially designed for anyone caring for someone who is seriously physically or mentally ill.  Find out how to be selfish in a positive way, recognize warning signs of overload, and techniques of caring for yourself so you can care for others.

Workshop: Coping with Suicide

This workshop follows Susan Hess’ personal journey as she describes the impact of suicide on her family and her community.  The workshop includes a discussion of the reality of stigma associated with suicide, and the family’s eventual triumph over it.

What do people say about the Quilt of Honour presentation?

“Thank you for telling your story and removing the stigma and isolation that exist for those of us affected by children’s mental illness.”

“Your gentle and compassionate spirit invites warmth and love in all you do.”

“You have moved my soul.”

“Your seminar reminds us of why we come to work each day. We understand that we do make a difference.” 

“No book can teach in the way a person sharing their personal journey can.”

Past Volunteer President of Parents for Children’s Mental Health, Susan is available to speak to your organization, church, school, community or business about the impact of children’s mental health problems on the children and their families.  Susan draws universal truths from her experiences that resonate with many types of audiences including social workers, medical professionals, high school students, teachers, parents, business leaders, legal professionals and politicians.


For more information or to book Susan Hess, please call or email:

Susan Hess             519-254-1514