More than 400 CMHA staff and front-line workers from across the province gathered in Toronto last week for the first-ever CMHA Ontario provincial conference. The 2015 conference – Journey Together: A Person-Centred Approach to Empower Change in the Community Mental Health and Addictions Sector– explored on the ground work happening around Ontario through our branches. The conference title served as a reminder of CMHA’s efforts to emphasize a client-focused approach in our work across the province.
The conference offered four streams of programming, including front-line service provider streams in housing, community reintegration and living with health and respect across the lifespan. Governance and senior management streams were also offered.
CMHA Ontario was honoured to have Premier Kathleen Wynne kick off the conference.
“Mental health is something we all need to take care of — as individuals and as a community,” said Premier Wynne. “CMHA Ontario focuses on the person, not the illness, and works to strip away the stigma surrounding mental illness. Together we will work to improve mental health care and addictions treatment, and create an environment of support where everyone in Ontario can lead healthy, fulfilling lives.”
The aim of the conference was for CMHA branches to share best practices in their field to enhance the delivery of mental health services across the province. Throughout the four days of the conference program, more than 80 presenters from CMHA branches shared their innovative programs and initiatives, including sessions on:
- Drug treatment courts as an alternative to the traditional court setting
- Addressing service needs in a multicultural context
- Why housing with supports is one of the single most important keys to recovery
- The recovery benefits of physical activity such as forest therapy
Additional conference guest speakers included former Prime Minister and federal Finance Minister Paul Martin; Dr. Joshua Tepper, CEO of Health Quality Ontario; Clint Malarchuk, former NHL goaltender and author of The Crazy Game: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond; and Steven Page, successful solo artist and co-founder of the Barenaked Ladies.
Conference participation extended beyond delegates attending in person, as highlights from the CMHA Ontario conference were shared live as they occurred, using the hashtag #cmhaONconf. More than 338,800 twitter users followed along and participated from across Canada, with the hashtag trending on the morning of April 27.
CMHA Ontario would like to thank all conference planning committee members, delegates and speakers for helping to make the 2015 conference a huge success.