Earlier this month, the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health held its annual Inspiration Awards Gala, which honours Ottawa community and business leaders who have positively contributed to the cause of mental health. Among this year's recipients was Ottawa-based Gowling WLG partner Gordon Cudney, who took home the Volunteer Leader for Mental Health Award.
Cudney is currently vice-chair of the board of the Foundation, which raises, manages and disburses funds to help the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group provide high-quality patient care for those in Eastern Ontario who suffer from mental illness. He also co-chairs the Foundation's annual charity golf tournament, which in 2017, raised $217,000.
With one of the largest business law practices in Gowling WLG's Ottawa office, Cudney serves as a mentor and role model to young lawyers at the firm. He is known for being open about his struggles with anxiety and depression - and championed the destigmatization of mental illness through the telling of his personal story.
When asked how living with depression has helped make him a better lawyer, Cudney explained that it has made him more empathetic. "I am able to pay more attention to my clients and recognize when something is taking a toll on them. I see it as a value-add," he told the Ottawa Business Journal (OBJ).
Cudney was also the recipient of an OBJ and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Forty Under 40 award in June 2017. The award celebrates entrepreneurs under the age of 40 who are both highly successful in their careers and committed to developing Ottawa's business community.
Gowling WLG has a history of supporting mental health initiatives. Last year, it became one of the first law firms in Canada to offer mental health first aid training to its personnel. Through intensive training sessions, professionals and staff from across the firm have learned how to effectively recognize the signs of mental health problems, provide initial help to a person in need, and guide that person towards appropriate professional support.