Emmanuel Poirel is a stress management clinician and has been working at the Medisys Executive Health clinic in Montreal since 1995. He holds two bachelor’s degrees (psychology and physical exercise), a master’s degree in motivation, and a doctorate in psychopedagogy specializing in work-related stress. In 2010, Emmanuel Poirel was the recipient of two best thesis awards in Canada (Greenfield Award and Dunlop Award). Since 2011, he has been a professor and researcher at the University of Montreal, teaching master’s and doctoral courses on psychological health at work and on leadership. Emmanuel is passionate about workplace health and was instrumental in the development of the first global standards for “Healthy Businesses” (BNQ 9700- 800) focusing on prevention, promotion, and organizational practices that support workplace health. He is an experienced executive coach and a recognized leader in the fields of conflict management, “emotional intelligence”, organizational stress management, and managerial interpersonal communication. Emmanuel is a member of the Qualaxia network (an organization dedicated to the promotion of mental health), the Quebec Population Health Research Network (RRSPQ), the Research and Intervention Center on Education and Life at Work (CRIEVAT), and the LeForCaS research group at the University of Geneva. He is also an internationally recognized lecturer, earning the 2015 Teaching Excellence Award from the Faculty of Education at the University of Montreal. Over the years, he has given more than 500 lectures based on his research on workplace health in America, Africa, and Europe.
Recently, Emmanuel Poirel’s paper published in the Mental Health Magazine in Quebec (2017), was selected by the Quebec Association of Psychiatrists (AMPQ) as part of their accreditation process. Based on his research, he supports patients struggling with psychological health issues, burnout, and stress.
1) What do you do for fun?
I love sports, especially basketball and soccer. I played competitive soccer until I was 45 years old; we actually won the gold medal at the Canadian championships in 2012, which was really exciting for me. I still love soccer even though I don’t play competitively anymore. I just enjoy being physically active, sports are a great way to relieve stress and maintain emotional wellness.
2) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I really admired my father and feel so fortunate to have had him in my life. He was a psychiatrist and philosopher, was a member of the Nobel Prize Jury of Medicine twice during his career, and has written remarkable books. His wisdom, his faith, and his spiritual vision have always been an inspiration to me. My dad passed away in 2006 and I was lucky enough to be at his bedside when he passed. He said to me, "you know Emmanuel, the most important thing in life is to maintain the sacred." I could never forget these words. “What is the sacred?” I’d ask myself. After much reflection, I understood that what my dad meant was that we all have some spiritual dimension within us. Religion aside, we all have some needs that go beyond physical or material, and it’s important to nurture this side of ourselves.
3) What’s the single most important piece of preventive health advice you have?
Find balance. Define your own standards of a living a healthy, balanced lifestyle and strive to achieve that.
4) What keeps you inspired?
Human kindness. When people forget themselves and give themselves to others, that is what inspires me.
5) What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you’d like others to know?
I spent all my summers in France with my grandparents until I was a teenager. At the age of 82, my grandfather, who has always been an inspiration to me, had a stroke that paralyzed his right side of the body. Despite this obstacle and his advanced age, he didn’t slow down for a second. He quickly learned how to write with his left hand and we continued to be pen pals (this was before the internet), until he died at age 91. One lesson I learned from my grandfather is that life deserves to be lived fully, and to be lived to the end. To be satisfied and to appreciate life, I believe, takes effort. As the poet Félix Leclerc said, “The best way to kill a man is to pay him to do nothing”. I think to be happy, you have to produce, to persevere, to overcome obstacles, and to start all over again.