Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual nation-wide conference in Calgary was complete with inspirational keynotes, gripping stories and informative sessions from presenters from across the country on the topics of mental health and addictions. Called Strengthening our Collective Voice, the conference was launched by Robb Nash, a successful musician turned philanthropist. He shared his story and the work he does in schools to inspire youth to be world changers and live lives of purpose.
The remainder of the first day of the conference was filled with institute presentations on targeted topics such as measuring policy change, presented by Mark Ferdinand, National Director of Public Policy, and, motivational interviewing, presented by CMHA Ottawa Branch.
The second day of the conference began with an inspiring story of resilience and courage by Amanda Lindhout, a journalist who was abducted and held captive in Somalia for 460 days until she was rescued.
Concurrent sessions featured CMHA Ontario’s CEO Camille Quenneville who spoke on Government Relations in 2014 as well as Policy Analyst Dorina Simeonov who spoke about Police Emergency Department Protocols and the intersection of the mental health and criminal justice systems. CMHA Toronto’s Executive Director, Steve Lurie, also presented asking the questions “Why can’t Canada spend more on mental health?”
These concurrent sessions covered policy issues and topics in Ontario while others concentrated on practice-based topics. For example, CMHA Oxford’s Patricia Beignet presented on addressing compassion fatigue and CMHA Ottawa’s Audrey Tedford discussed the criminalization of persons with a serious mental illness.
The final day of the conference began with the story and work of Sheldon Kennedy, a former professional hockey player who speaks out about his experience of being sexually abused as a youth by his coach. Kennedy is one of the founders of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and continues to raise awareness about sexual abuse and mental health issues.
The concurrent sessions on the final day included a presentation on accreditation by CMHA York and South Simcoe and two presentations by CMHA Ottawa on housing and dual diagnosis, concurrent disorders and dialectical behaviour therapy.
Overall, the conference provided participants with on opportunity to network and discuss local, provincial and national issues and best practices. Attendees reconnected and fostered new partnerships to address systemic issues in the field of mental health and addictions.
For more information on this year`s conference, visit the CMHA National website.