Concurrent Sessions

Session details for Tuesday November 3, 2020

Nov 3, Day 1

7:30 am – 9:00 am EST

Registration / Networking

Breakout Rooms

9:00 am – 9:30 am EST

Opening Ceremonies

Welcome Address
Julia Pereira and Jason Baryluk, Masters of Ceremonies

Opening Remarks
Marija Padjen, Director CICMH
Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario

Special Guest Speaker
The Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities

Plenary Room

9:30 am – 11:00 am EST

Keynote Address

Francoise Mathieu, M.Ed., RP., CCC.
Compassion Fatigue Specialist
Executive Director, TEND.

Advanced Tools from a Trauma Expert: Managing Secondary Trauma, Moral Distress & Empathic Strain During times of Crisis

Repeated and chronic exposure to large volumes of difficult stories can erode our sense of empathy for others. We can become hardened and desensitized to suffering – or conversely, we can become swallowed up by their pain. With the added pressure of the current pandemic, limited resources, “red tape” and working mostly from home, our ability to remain grounded and compassionate is being tested unlike ever before.

Inspired by Françoise Mathieu’s TEDX Talk, this presentation explores the concept of exquisite empathy and provides evidence-informed tools to help individuals rapidly return to a healthy baseline during times of crisis.

  • What are your risk factors? The intersection of secondary trauma, empathic strain and overload
  • Exquisite Empathy: What is the sweet spot between caring too much and not caring at all?
  • COVID-19: An amplifying risk factor
  • Strategies for transforming empathic strain and secondary trauma at work and at home

Plenary Room

11:00 am – 11:30 am EST


Breakout Rooms

11:30 am – 12:30 pm EST

Concurrent Sessions | A1 – A5

A1 Top Ten Ways to Rock the Rainbow

Students from all backgrounds who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community face the stressors of marginalization, in addition to the common stressors of university life. Studies report proportionately higher incidences of anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance use and suicidality in this population. Thankfully, feelings of connection, caring and safety are protective factors that can improve the health and well-being of 2SLGBTQ+ students.

We can all do something to become more “queer competent” to improve the wellness and campus experience of 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff. In this workshop, participants will learn ten ways to improve inclusion for 2SLGBTQ+ people. They will have the opportunity to learn new terminology, to challenge their cis- and hetero-normative assumptions and to hear personal and organizational stories. Resources will also be provided for further reference

Declan Frampton, BSc. | Ontario Tech University BIO
Bonne Pedota, B.A., B.Ed. | Ontario Tech UniversityBIO

A2 Elevating the Youth Voice During COVID-19 and Beyond

At, they know that young people’s experiences as students afford them expertise and unique knowledge about mental health systems. It’s part of the reason why they develop their annual Youth Voice Report, a tool that assesses the state of youth mental health in Canada, with their young leaders’ perspectives at its centre. When COVID-19 emerged in Canada in February 2020, it revealed existing and new gaps and opportunities in Canada’s mental health systems. During this workshop, the presenters will be discussing key findings from Jack. org’s Youth Voice Report and youth engagement work during COVID-19 that have brought to light the challenges and opportunities for youth mental health in Canada during this global crisis. They’ll also discuss youth engagement through the lens of participants’ own campus communities and brainstorm potential strategies, barriers, and resources in collaborating with students and engaging their voices in this work, so that participants have tools to strategize for youth mental health during COVID-19 and beyond.


Tammy Rosner | BIO
Sope Owoaje | BIO

A3 Harm Reduction During COVID-19

Post-secondary institutions across the country switched to delivering online classes and employed physical distancing measures to protect students from the spread of COVID-19, but these measures had deleterious effects on secondary health outcomes (e.g. mental health outcomes) that also needed to be addressed and promoted. For example, early research showed that physical distancing increased substance use behaviour among young people. This was compounded by the fact that harm reduction resource capacity was decreased, a lack of clarity around harm reduction best practice, and a change in specific substance use risk in light of COVID-19 (with some substances that affect the respiratory system higher risk). The University of Toronto addressed these concerns by building out resources that provided:

  1. Clear harm reduction advice that respected physical distancing
  2. A method of monitoring substance use behaviour to gauge when use becomes misuse, abuse, or addiction
  3. Connections to off-campus trainings and resources


Swati Naidu | University of Toronto BIO
Pratik Nair | University of Toronto BIO

A4 Integrating Undergraduate Students’ Voices in Campus Mental Health Promotion Strategies

Post-secondary institutions are an ideal setting to promote the optimal mental health and well-being of this population. Yet, students are often excluded from institutional needs assessments, making it difficult to determine if the services offered on-campus truly align with students’ needs. This interactive workshop presents the findings of a qualitative study conducted at the University of Guelph from nearly 40 participants. Results explore how post-secondary students’ perceptions of factors contributing to stress compare to the views of staff who provide services for students at the institution. Findings will emphasize the student perspective in identifying facilitators and barriers to current service provision and will present on strategies suggested to better meet students’ mental health needs on campus.

Konrad Lisnyj | University of Guelph BIO

A5 University of Waterloo’s Undergraduate Course on Mental Health Literacy

In Winter 2020, the University of Waterloo launched its first undergraduate course on Mental Health Literacy so that students could earn a credit for learning about mental health self-care and support for others. In this session, the presenters describe the design and evaluation of AHS 105: Mental Health Literacy which is offered through the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and available to undergraduate students in all six Faculties. In AHS 105, students designed, implemented, and evaluated their own Personal Mental Wellness Plan. Working in small groups, students designed and implemented a project aimed at addressing one aspect of mental health in their campus community. With ethics approval, the presenters conducted a study measuring indicators of students’ mental health literacy (e.g., attitudes toward help-seeking) at the start and end of the course (N = 37). They will report their findings along with student feedback on University of Waterloo’s first mental health literacy course for credit.

Ryan Yeung | University of Waterloo BIO
Dr. Christine Zaza | University of Waterloo BIO

Breakout Rooms

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm EST


Breakout Rooms

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm EST

Concurrent Sessions | B1 – B6

B1 Soins de Santé Mentale Virtuelle sur les Campus

Le COVID-19 a eu un impact notable sur la prestation de services de santé mentale en personne à travers le Canada. Afin de continuer à répondre aux besoins des étudiants, l’Université McGill s’est rapidement tournée vers la prestation de soins à distance aux étudiants. Plus récemment, McGill a commencé à offrir un modèle hybride de prestation de services qui comprend une combinaison de services en personne et à distance fournis par le biais de programmes individuels (rendez-vous avec un.e et de groupe. Cet atelier offrira un survol des services à distance et en personne ainsi que des processus mis en place afin de promouvoir une adaptation rapide aux directives de santé publique qui sont fréquemment mises à jour en réponse à l’évolution de la pandemie. 

Giovanni Arcuri | Université McGill BIO
Dr. Patricia Poulin | Université McGill BIO

B2 Going Beyond the Status Quo to Reach Underserved Students

What happens when we realize that doing what we’ve always done prevents us from reaching the people who really need help? In this workshop, learn how to take a students-as-partners approach to meeting the mental health needs of underserved students in our campus communities through a lens of cultural humility. Drawing on Ramsey and Latting’s (2005) typology of intergroup competencies, Martinez-Cola’s (2020) conception of White mentors in the academy, and French et al.’s (2020) framework of radical healing in communities of colour, workshop participants will identify their purpose for engaging these students in their mental health program or service – reactive, proactive, or evaluative – and develop tangible next steps that promote positive student mental health through cultural safety.

Samira Adus | Western University BIO
Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins | Western University BIO
Yuelee Khoo | Western University BIO

B3 Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health of Post-Secondary Students from Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

Health & Wellness Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) has been tracking the well-being, stress, physical activity and academic engagement of its culturally diverse students for the last seven years. The current global pandemic has allowed a unique opportunity to add a measure of COVID-19 related fear and anxiety to explore how COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Drawing insights from a large, longitudinal dataset, with added COVID-19 related measure, this presentation will answer the following questions:

  1. Is there an increase in overall psychopathology among post-secondary students that can reliably be attributed to COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. What impact COVID-19 pandemic related fear and anxiety is likely to have on the most vulnerable post-secondary students?
  3. Is the mental health and well-being of students from diverse cultural backgrounds disproportionally impacted by COVID-19?
  4. How COVID-19 impacts the academic engagement, physical activity and overall wellbeing of students?
  5. Do demographic factors (i.e., age, gender, socio-economic level, immigration status, living arrangements) interact with COVID-related fear and anxiety?
  6. What specific factors enhance access and continuation of online counselling, and what factors pose significant barriers?
  7. Which specific strengths, in addition to symptoms, buffer against COVID-19 related stress and fear?

Tayyab Rashid | University of Toronto BIO

B4 Embedding Youth Voice in the Mental Health System

Youth engagement is an active ongoing process that empowers young people as valuable partners in addressing and making decisions that affect them personally and/or that they believe to be important. Within the mental health and education sector, youth engagement improves the care experience of young people by using a whole community approach and an active ongoing process that embeds youth voice at all levels.

The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (the Centre) has supported child and youth mental health (CYMH) agencies and communities in Ontario to imbed youth voice into the CYMH system not only to improve care but also to increase youth engagement opportunities and for contributing to lifelong mental health.

The Centre’s youth advisory council co-developed a resource (in the form of a youth engagement traffic light) which provides examples about how to engage young people in the mental health system.

Rafael Lim Daunt BIO
Kamill SantafeBIO
Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health

B5 We’re in this Together: Promoting Health Virtually through COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on new challenges for post-secondary institutions. Many shifted in-person classes to online learning and introduced physical distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, these same measures may have negative effects on mental health outcomes, including increased isolation and challenges to accessing traditional mental health services. In this environment, the role of virtual mental health promotion (building community connection, developing capacity for support, and promoting on- and off- campus services) becomes critically important for student well-being. This 60-minute presentation will outline the steps taken for the development of new initiatives at the University of Toronto St. George campus, including virtual well-being workshops, mental health webinars, and a novel peer-to-peer community support group. The presenters will cover learnings, tips for success, and address common concerns that many institutions face when transitioning health promotion programs online.

Agnes Hsin | University of Toronto BIO
Pratik Nair | University of Toronto BIO
Kasthuri Paramalingam | University of Toronto BIO

B6 ASD Friends Group: Support Group for Individuals on the Spectrum

In this workshop, the presenters will take participants on a journey to discuss, how their support group began, strategies and techniques that they found useful to ensure their group was both a welcoming and supportive environment for all to attend. They will highlight how their ASD Friends group is a collaborative group with both the facilitators and participants. They will also discuss how their group pivoted from a weekly in-person model to a virtual model during the pandemic of COVID-19. The group’s curriculum is based on the evidenced-based UCLA Peers Program, specifically designed for individuals on the spectrum. Both facilitators are certified as the Youth Adult Certified Providers from the UCLA Peers Program.

Lavlet Forde | George Brown College BIO
Joanna Popczyk | George Brown College BIO

Breakout Rooms

2:30 pm – 3:00 pm EST


Breakout Rooms

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST

Concurrent Sessions | C1 – C5

C1 Promoting the RISE to Success and Well-being

Imagine a campus where everyone feels safe and a part of a community, especially those who face multiple barriers. This interactive workshop, designed for anyone who is student-facing will give you the tips and tools to create safe, equitable and inclusive spaces for students to share their voice and to feel like they are part of a community.

Shauna Moore | Durham College BIO

C2 Supporting Wellness Efforts by Implementation of a New National Standard

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), in collaboration with CSA Group (a global leader in standards development), has championed the development of the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students. This voluntary Standard is the first of its kind in the world; it builds on the exceptional work of Canada’s post-secondary institutions and seeks to inspire further actions through principle-led approaches. The MHCC has also designed a Starter Kit to support post-secondary institutions as they begin aligning with the Standard.
This session will be useful to those who are considering aligning their efforts with the Standard, with a special focus on the impacts the global pandemic has had on students and post-secondary institutions. Participants will learn:

1) what the Standard is and why it was developed,
2) how institutions can build momentum by using a new Starter Kit, and
3) examples of how institutions are adapting their approaches to support student mental health during COVID-19 and beyond.

In a rapidly changing world, where uncertainty can increase risks to mental health, this new national Standard for Canada provides an opportunity for institutions to continue to prioritize wellness and to improve access to resources that promote mental health.

Sandra Koppert | Mental Health Commission of Canada BIO
Amy Fogarty | Mental Health Commission of Canada BIO
Gaya Arasaratnam | Concordia University
Kalin McCluskey | Canadian Alliance of Student Association

C3 S.O.B. (Sense of Belonging) Stories: Navigating Student Belonging through Podcasts

Developing a sense of community and belonging is essential for university students and has been linked to students’ positive self-esteem, physical and psychological health and well-being and academic success. In a research study conducted at a small Canadian university, students emphasized the importance of creating a welcoming space for diversity and promoting experiences of recognition, validation, and engagement by peers and faculty as essential strategies for sense of belonging development.

Following the study, a student group created a space to share students’ stories of belonging. A monthly podcast, called S.O.B. Stories, was developed to promote a range of student voices, to normalize individual experiences, and to convey a message that social adversity in student experience is common and transient.

The presenters will share their experience of planning, implementation and evaluation of this community intervention and discuss strategies for student engagement on social media.

Victoria Dickson | Trent University Durham GTA BIO
Laura McMaster | Trent University Durham GTA BIO
Marina Morgenshtern | Trent University Durham GTA BIO

C4 Integrated Approach to Implementation of a Virtual Wellness Hub and Series

Since launching the Mental Health and Wellness website in 2016, University of Ottawa has been building an integrated collaborative approach, “moving towards a culture of wellness”. COVID-19 pushed universities across the world to offer their academics virtually. To support learning and community activities beyond the classroom, in March 2020 the University of Ottawa launched the Virtual Wellness Series, offered by partner stakeholders from the University of Ottawa community and beyond. Tied into our 7 pillars of wellness, the series offers diverse virtual events and opportunities for the University of Ottawa community and the public to stay connected and engaged while physical distancing. Participants joined from every continent except Antarctica! Next step was its evolution into the Virtual Wellness Hub. This workshop explores their strategy, successes and challenges, while giving attendees the opportunity to experience the Virtual Wellness Hub and consider how to apply the learnings in their institutions.

Jennifer Keays | University of Ottawa BIO
Benoit Lefebvre | University of Ottawa BIO
April MacInnes | University of Ottawa BIO
Sylvie Marko | University of Ottawa BIO
Colin Timm | University of Ottawa BIO

C5 Thriving in Action at College – Considerations for Availability, Access Points and Student Buy-in

Georgian and Sheridan Colleges team up to share lessons learned from piloting Thriving in Action, an integrated wellness learning strategy program developed by Ryerson. A Learning Strategist and Student Success Advisor offer an exploration of their experiences implementing a serial wellness program to align with the unique needs/ circumstances of college-level learners. Distinctive considerations for this population required organic evolution in response to student needs. Practical solutions, such as weekly integrated thriving kits and collaborative applied strategies/discussions will be showcased. These were developed in response to challenges at the college level related to availability, access points and buy-in.

Chrissy Deckers | Georgian University BIO
Carren Tatton | Sheridan University BIO

Breakout Rooms

4:00 pm – 4:15 pm EST

Closing Ceremonies

Plenary Room