The Hon. Donald Ethell introduced the Lieutenant Governor's Circle on Mental Health and Addiction at an event at Government House in Edmonton on October 5, 2011, with the goal of reducing stigma related to mental illness and addiction, further public knowledge of the topic and highlighting positive steps being taken to improve the lives of Albertans affected by all types of mental illness.

Circle programs are administered by a stand alone board and include the True Awards and Donald S. Ethell Youth Award.

At the 2011 launch event, Hon Ethell said, "Through my own experiences with post traumatic stress disorder I’ve seen the stigma and misunderstanding that can surround the issue. I’ve also come to appreciate all those across our province who are working to deliver valued mental health programs and to encourage recovery, hope and understanding. This Circle is intended to shine a light on the progress we’re making and encourage even greater success in the future.”

The keynote speaker at the launch event, LGen. (Ret’d) the Honourable Senator Roméo Dallaire, said, "mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It affects people across our nation, of all ages and all walks of life. I applaud the Lieutenant Governor for his service as a champion of the cause and I hope that this promising Alberta initiative inspires others across Canada to follow suit.”