Thursday, November 8

7:45 am – 8:30 am




8:30 am – 8:45 am




8:45 am – 9:45 am


Dr. Jean Clinton BMus MD FRCP(C), Clinical Professor McMaster University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences

Youth Mental Health: What We Know and What We Need To Do

Dr. Jean Clinton will share with delegates the latest survey results from the School Mental Health Survey and Ontario Child Health Survey. Given the latest information, Dr. Clinton will zero in on what we currently know about Youth Mental Health in Canada and the challenges we are facing. She then will engage delegates in clear direction as where we need to go and how we should get there.


9:45 am – 10:00 am


Subject Area #1



10:00 am – 11:00 am


Dr. Amy Cheung – Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Suicide is the second leading cause of death of young Canadians. Dr. Amy Cheung will highlight the risk factors for suicide in youth and what educators can do to assist students at risk for suicide in the educational setting. This keynote will provide strategies for educators to use in their current work locations.


11:00 am – 11:15 am




11:15 am – 12:15 pm



1A   HEADSTRONG: Empowering Youth to Fight Stigma Across Canada
         Bob Heeney – Mental Health Commission of Canada

HEADSTRONG is the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) evidence-informed national youth anti-stigma initiative. Regional HEADSTRONG summits are held in communities across Canada where ALL Canadian students, with the support of school-based mentors, become inspired to lead anti-stigma health and wellness activities in their schools. Contact-based education and action planning are the key ingredients of a HEADSTRONG Summit. When students spend a day with resilient speakers who share their personal stories, myths and stereotypes are challenged and our students understand that recovery can happen and early intervention is key. Program evaluations show it is indeed effective at reducing stigma, and that high fidelity to the program is correlated with more positive attitudinal outcomes.

1B   Understanding Suicidality
         Dr. Yvonne Bergmans – Suicide Intervention Consultant, St. Michael’s Hospital

Join Dr. Yvonne Bergmans to learn about the importance of language when talking about suicide and its prevention. Dr. Bergmans will provide educators with ways to engage and respond to students on the topic of suicide thoughts and attempts.

1C   The Role of Collaborative Community Partnerships in Assisting High-Risk Students with Suicidal Ideation
         Charysse Pawley – Mental Health Lead and Supervisor of Social Work/Attendance Counselling, GECDSB

Today’s students live in a high-stress society dominated by social media. With an estimated one in four students experiencing mental health issues, it is not surprising that many students present within our schools with suicidal ideation. In order to ensure the safety of our students, multifaceted approaches to prevention are required. These include education of school staff, establishing community protocols with mental health agencies regarding communication, and establishing responsive care pathways. The importance of developing capacity within the school board and community to ensure the best possible outcomes and a supportive school environment will be discussed.


12:15 pm – 1:15 pm




1:15 pm – 1:30 pm

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM | Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Subject Area #2



1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

How to Promote Mental Health in Our Diverse Youth Population

Dr. Kwame McKenzie – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

As an international expert on the social causes of mental illness, suicide and the development of effective, equitable health systems, Dr. McKenzie will draw on his expertise as a physician, psychiatrist, researcher and policy advisor, to speak about the need for greater emphasis on increasing mental health and well-being among children and youth in schools. He will share the need and expectation that as educators, we must create an environment that protects mental health and fosters development of emotional intelligence.


2:30 pm – 2:40 pm



2:40 pm – 3:40 pm



2A   Mindfulness Matters for Mental Health
          Dr. Eva-Maria Hahler, C.Psych. – Toronto District School Board

Mindfulness is paying attention to what is happening in the present moment, without judgment. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an evidence-based group therapy for preventing depressive relapse and reducing acute depression, anxiety and stress. Participants will be provided with a brief overview and introduced to other mindfulness-based programs to increase staff health. In addition, the implementation and benefits of mindfulness programs in elementary classrooms will be discussed.

2B   Toward a Better Understanding of New Canadian Students’ Experience of Traumatic Stress: Creating a Welcoming and Supportive School Environment
         Dr. Lindsey S. Jaber, C.Psych – Greater Essex County District School Board

The complex histories of many Syrian Refugee students who attend our schools has highlighted the need for educators to understand the impact of traumatic experiences and how to create a welcoming and supportive school environment. Prior to arriving in Canada, these students have often been exposed to chronic, severe and varied forms of trauma, including violence and the experience of living in refugee camps while attempting to flee their country of origin. After arriving in Canada, these students begin attending school – often for the first time in their lives. Language, culture and expectations now differ profoundly from their previous experiences. The purpose of this workshop is to provide an overview of trauma and traumatic stress, to discuss the specific impact of trauma on New Canadian/Refugee students, and to outline the ways in which educators can best support these students within our schools.

2C   Sleep: Our Journey to Have Our Students Sleep More (And Not In Class!)
         Dr. Sharon Pyke, Superintendent of Student Well-Being – Greater Essex County District School Board

Our school climate survey noted that the older our students get, the less sleep they report having each night. The research clearly delineates the causes, outlines solution for youth and how we, as the adults, can support them in their quest for the quantity and quality of their sleep. This workshop will examine research on sleep highlighting quality/quantity, factors that adolescents can control, risk factors, and possible solutions, including an analysis of later bell times. This presentation will make reference to student voice, SHSM projects, school-based campaigns, and board based campaigns for both students and staff.


3:40 pm – 4:30 pm




FRIDAY, November 9

7:00 am – 8:00 am




8:00 am – 8:15 am




8:15 am – 8:30 am

DEFEAT DEPRESSION | Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Subject Area #2



8:30 am – 9:30 am

Sometimes It’s The Little Things

Dr. Kathy Short – School Mental Health ASSIST

Mental health is a complex topic and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Canadian survey data suggests that educators want to help, but that they are not sure of their role in this work, and often feel ill-equipped to support students who are experiencing mental health problems. Educators are not mental health professionals, but they do have an important role to play in promoting positive mental health and well-being, noticing when students are struggling, and offering compassion and support. There are programs and evidence-based strategies available to help educators with this role. But sometimes it’s the little things that educators do each day that can make a big difference. This session will offer insights and practical strategies that educators can use to help to promote mental health as part of daily life at school.


9:30 am – 9:40 am



9:40 am – 10:40 am



3A   Mental Health Leadership: TIPS for School and System Leaders
         Dr. Kathy Short – School Mental Health ASSIST

There are many excellent evidence-based programs and approaches that can enhance student mental health and well-being at school. However, without specific and sustained leadership, high-quality programming will not be maintained over time, and may not reach the students who need this the most. School and system leaders create the conditions for effective embedded practices that promote student mental health. This workshop will highlight ideas and strategies to support leaders in their unique and important role, with particular focus on school mental health leadership TIPS: Tiered system of support, Implementation science principles, Pillared support, and use of Scalable and Sustainable approaches. This interactive session will draw on the strength of experience amongst participants, in the hopes of building connections and ongoing opportunities for sharing across schools, districts, regions, and provinces.

3B   How Harry Potter and CBT Can Help Students Mental Health
         Dr. Mark Synor – Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
         Dr. Donaleen Hawes, Superintendent – Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario is working on an exciting project with Dr. Mark Sinyor at Sunnybrook Hospital. Grade 7 and 8 students are learning about, reflecting on and discussing mental health using a Harry Potter novel and a CBT framework and guiding questions. The project is designed to promote understanding and discussion of how thoughts, emotions and behaviour influence/impact each other. The teachers and students share the power and incredible impact this unit and approach has had on the students’ understanding of anxiety, depression, fear hierarchies, core beliefs and cognitive distortions and how they are explored in a meaningful and engaging way.

3C   Fighting Stigma, Finding Community: LGBTQ + Youth and Mental Health
         Ilana David, Social Worker – Gender-Based Violence Prevention, Toronto District School Board
         Gaela Mintz, Social Worker – Gender-Based Violence Prevention, Toronto District School Board

Too many LGBTQ+ youth face multiple barriers that increase their chances of experiencing mental health issues, in addition to facing stigma for their sexual and gender identities. Schools and educators are in a unique position to provide supportive and affirming spaces to help support improved mental health outcomes for youth. Learn about some of the challenges LGBTQ+ youth might face in our systems, and what we can do to help support positive, healthy outcomes for all our students.


10:40 am – 11:00 am



11:00 am – 11:15 am


Subject Area #1



11:15 am – 12:15 pm

All Our Relations: Wahkootowin and Indigenous Student Wellbeing

Benny Michaud, Assistant Director, Center for Indigenous Initiatives – Carleton University

Wahkootowin is a Cree and Michif concept that speaks to our mutual responsibility to one another and to our community as a whole. In academic institutions, Indigenous students have long relied on wahkootowin to survive, endure, and to achieve success. Despite this, the challenges facing Indigenous students continue to require strategies which will nurture, maintain and improve well-being. This talk will examine Indigenous concepts of health and wellbeing and the significant role that culture-based learning has in supporting it. Also explored, will be why wahkootowin is regarded by many Indigenous educators as a central means to promote Indigenous student wellbeing and resiliency.


12:15 pm – 1:15 pm




1:00 pm – 2:00 pm



4A   Sources of Strength: Indigenous Perspectives in the Classroom
         Benny Michaud, Assistant Director, Center for Indigenous Initiatives – Carleton University

Indigenous ways of teaching and learning are increasingly being brought into mainstream classrooms. As educators become more aware of the importance of incorporating Indigenous perspectives in curriculum, strategies need to be developed to support teachers. This workshop will look at promising practices around respectfully and appropriately bringing Indigenous content into the classroom.

4B   Indigenous Mental Health Workshop
         Marian Lawson-Macdonald, Indigenous Ed Coordinator – Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario

This workshop will explore practical strategies for integrating Indigenous culture, history and perspective into our schools that support wellness for all. Successful initiatives happening in schools will be showcased; initiatives that are succeeding in empowering both students and staff through leadership opportunities, increased cultural understanding and most importantly, relationship-building with our community partners. Impact from these initiatives will be underlined through the integration of student, educator and community partner voice.

4C   Engaging Youth in Anti-Stigma Initiatives
         Diane Mullane, Mental Health Leader – Durham Catholic District School Board Pamela Garant, Secondary School Teacher – Durham Catholic District School Board

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness every year. Despite how common it is, mental illness continues to be met with widespread stigma, which is a major barrier to recovery. While change is happening gradually, we still have a long way to go in eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness. To make this happen requires the collective effort of all of us, including youth. Adolescents are one of the best targets for anti-stigma campaigns (Corrigan et. al., 2005) as it is during this developmental period that foundations are laid for adult attitudes and beliefs. When we engage youth directly in the development and implementation of anti-stigma initiatives, it not only empowers them but it creates buy-in from other youth. The focus of this workshop will be on sharing various youth anti-stigma initiatives that are integral to the Durham Catholic District School Board’s Mental Health Strategy, as well as youth-led “Stomping out Stigma” initiatives at one specific Secondary School within the board.


2:00 pm – 2:15 pm



2:15 pm – 3:00 pm


Mr. John Cameron, Director of Education – Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
Ms. Anne O’Brien, Director of Education – Durham Catholic District School Board
Ms. Erin Kelly, Director of Education – Greater Essex County District School Board
Dr. John Malloy, Director of Education – Toronto District School Board



3:00 pm – 3:10 pm