Women & Wellness History

Women & Wellness arose out of a family’s devasting loss. Helen MacDonnell founded the event after her brother Duncan's tragic suicide in 2003. After her brother died, Helen began reading his journals, trying to understand why he took his own life. She discovered Duncan had been suffering from bi-polar disorder. He didn’t want to die. He wanted the pain to stop. In Helen’s quest to learn more, she began researching and talking to people about mental illness. She quickly learned it was a taboo subject that many didn’t discuss. Realizing change wouldn’t come unless people started to talk, Helen took action.


On a stormy night in January 2004 she hosted a “kitchen party with a purpose”, inviting 54 women into her home in Moncton, New Brunswick to discuss mental illness and mental health, share stories, laugh and cry and be reminded to take care of their own health. This first Women & Wellness evening raised $1,250 for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).


Today, more than ten years later, through word of mouth and despite limited resources, the discussion has expanded far beyond Helen’s kitchen in Moncton. Ten communities across Canada will host a Women & Wellness event this year, engaging thousands of women and contributing to the more than $1 Million raised for CMHA in host communities since its inception. Each event has a theme of  “touch your heart and lift your spirit” and includes inspiring speakers, delicious chef-prepared finger foods, chocolate and refreshments. The result is a truly special night designed to unite and empower women. Attendance is free, thanks to corporate sponsorship.


The first Women and Wellness event was held in Prince Edward Island in 2009.  Our 2021 event will be our twelfth year. Through the dedication, commitment and support of the community and volunteers we are very proud to have raised over $150,000 dollars for programs and services of CMHA PEI. All money raised from this event stays on PEI.