Helping Ontario's colleges and universities enhance capacity to support student mental health and well-being

Conference 2017: Innovation and Opportunities in Campus Mental Health

Conference registration simple version
CICMH 2017 Conference

The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health’s Annual Conference is the meeting place for stakeholders in post-secondary mental health across Ontario and Canada. This annual event attracts over 200 participants, 20 exhibitors, and leaders in mental health from across the country. It offers over a dozen workshops featuring the best, promising and emerging practices in the sector.

This year’s theme, Innovation & Opportunities in Campus Mental Health, will focus on how post-secondary institutions can assess the need for, design, implement and evaluate campus-wide mental health strategies. We are working toward having whole-campus strategies that emphasize the wellbeing of campus communities.


October 30, 2017 – October 31, 2017

Courtyard Marriot
475 Yonge St
Toronto, ON M4Y 1X7


Conference Streams

Creating a healthy campus community involves institutional policies, physical environment, counselling and crisis intervention, curriculum, training of faculty and staff, competency-building for students, and more. It requires a proactive, systemic approach. Creating a healthy campus community involves everyone – including faculty, support staff, administrators, student leaders, and students. It requires the campus community to be engaged in understanding and enacting the role they play in creating a healthy campus.

A whole-campus approach to building a culture of wellbeing is an approach that explores the impact of wellbeing on learning and personal growth that’s spreading quickly across institutions, both within Canada and internationally. To facilitate this discussion, we look at the key components for campus mental health strategy development, as established by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

These are:

  1. Institutional Structure: Organization, Planning and Policy
  2. Supportive, Inclusive Campus Climate and Environment
  3. Mental Health Awareness
  4. Community Capacity to Respond to Early Indications of Student Concern
  5. Self-Management Competencies and Coping Skills
  6. Accessible Mental Health Services
  7. Crisis Management

Each of these components represents an individual stream under this year’s conference theme.  We are especially interested in program submissions that integrate ideas under each of the seven streams into an overall campus mental health strategy, showcase innovation and research within the streams, and set the course for having a campus-wide strategy in place.

Conference Schedule

View the conference agenda here.

Keynote Speakers

Oct. 30th

Dr. Natasha Saunders is a general pediatrician in the Division of Pediatric Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children, an Associate Scientist at the SickKids Research Institute, and an Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). A core focus of her research program relates to better understanding health outcomes, specifically mental health and injuries, of pediatric immigrants and identifying ways to improve access to care for these children. As a Principal Investigator with the Mental Health and Addictions Team at ICES, she worked as a co-author to create the 2017 Scorecard for the Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario.

Oct. 31st

cornish for web

Dr. Peter Cornish is an Associate Professor and Director of the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre (SWCC) at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Dr. Cornish is a strong advocate for interprofessional collaboration and encourages the development of partnerships with a broad range of disciplines within the university and within the public health sector. His clinical and research interests include online mental health, stepped care programming, mental health service innovations, change management, interprofessional team functioning, interpersonal and group dynamics, wellness community development and gender issues. He is known for developing and implementing the Stepped Care model at Memorial University, which is a 9-step model of wellness service care and management with potential for electronic medical record integration and commercialization.

Concurrent Session Information

A1: Wellness in Two Worlds: A Holistic Approach to Supporting Indigenous Students

Speakers: Laurie Schnarr, Cara Wehkamp & Natasha Young

In a context of building an inclusive campus and fostering cultural safety, the University of Guelph has researched and developed a collaborative support model that focuses on holistic (mental, emotional, spiritual, physical) wellness for Indigenous postsecondary learners. By harmonizing aspects of Indigenous knowledge and worldviews with appropriate, western-based therapeutic approaches, the aim is to more effectively engage and support Indigenous students where they are in their personal healing and wellness journeys. Participants will gain an understanding of the holistic wellness needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners, how we work with our colleagues and partners to create a community of care, and they will explore opportunities for enhancing mental health and wellness support for Indigenous learners.

A2: Engaging Staff & Faculty in Campus-Wide Mental Health Initiatives 

Speakers: Kate Klein & Jacqueline Macchione

A large part of students’ social and emotional support system is comprised of teachers and other staff who help them navigate their college journey. When staff and faculty feel confident in their ability to support students both proactively (through systems, policies, procedures, built environments, curriculum, etc.) and responsively (through direct support), students have access to a network of mentors, cheerleaders, and practical guides that can make the difference between flourishing and languishing. For this reason, George Brown College’s Healthy Campus Initiative has placed a strong focus on helping staff and faculty at the college expand their knowledge and skills related to promoting mental health and supporting students throughout all stages of their college experience. This session will explore GBC’s efforts to engage staff and faculty in its Healthy Campus Initiative, with a focus on two major projects: the Foundations for Flourishing workshop series and the FacultyConnect online learning hub.

A3: Institutional Structure

Speaker: Tayyab Rashid


A4: Mental Health Awareness

Speaker: Maggie Patterson


B1: Extending the Healthy Campus Online: Considering Distance Student Mental Health

Speaker: Rose Singh

For post-secondary students studying at a distance or online, institutional services to support their mental health may be inaccessible to them. Increasing online enrolments, and the expansion of online courses and programs, requires reconsideration of the boundaries of the healthy campus community to
include online contexts. Online services and supports, available regardless of time or place, offer students help when and where they may need it most.
This research highlighted the experiences of distance education social work students with mental health (dis)Abilities, with suggestions for better supporting students’ mental health online. Recommendations and potential applications of the research will be discussed. Conference participants will also be invited to share their own experiences and practices for promoting and addressing student mental health online.

B2: The Inquiring Mind: A New Program to Address Mental Health in Post-secondary Settings

Speakers: Andrew Szeto & Keith Dobson

The Inquiring Mind is a program that has been built on evidence-based principles and practices, and is adapted from other programs that have been evaluated in a variety of settings. The program includes the mental health continuum model, which re-conceptualized how one think and talks about mental health and mental illnesses. As well, other core components include stigma reduction methods (e.g., contact-based education) and the development of healthy coping strategies. The Inquiring Mind was developed using best practices in adult education, including both didactic and experiential exercises, and the use of peers as presenters, to maximize the uptake of the content of the program. In this workshop, participants will learn about the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program, along with some of the core content. Participants will also get a chance to experience some of the components of the program through group exercises, scenarios, and discussion.

B3: Engaging Students in Developing A Mental Health Strategy 

Speakers: Colin Aitchison & Nadia Bathish

In order to create a healthy campus climate, all aspects of the campus community must be engaged. This presentation will draw on OUSA’s research regarding the experiences of students on Ontario’s university campuses, and will stress the importance of partnering and engaging with both everyday
students and student groups when exploring institutional policies, changes to the physical environment, counselling and crisis intervention services, curriculum development and employee training. It will explore the recommendations that students have developed to address gaps that they have identified in their campuses, with the hopes of leaving the audience with thoughts about how to better integrate the needs of students into their campus mental health strategies, and how to better engage and consult students.

B4: Informing College Mental Health Strategies: High Risk Mental Health Crises

Speaker: Shirley Porter

This presentation will focus on research which examined high-risk mental health crisis situations that were documented at Fanshawe College over a three year period.  This study focused on a number of factors related to documented mental health crises including: client demographics; types of crises; triggering events; suicide risk assessment data; and the types of interventions. While we might have a sense that mental health issues are rising and becoming more complex among our students, we don’t often have access to data to back this up.  Evidence-based understanding of the types of mental health crises occurring on campuses can not only increase our awareness of mental health, but hopefully will also inform organizational planning and policy development in this area.

C1: Advancing a Mentally Healthy Campus

Speaker: Stephanie Francis

1 in 5 Canadians experience mental illness, but all of us have mental health, and it is vital that Universities invest in supporting all community members. York University’s mental health strategy goes beyond supporting students, and focuses on staff and faculty as well, so that all members of our community can support one another.  Join us to learn about how we adapted the CACUSS Mental Health Framework to develop a strategy that focuses on the well-being of our entire campus community. We will provide you with tips to take back to your own institution, ideas for building campus partnerships and highlights from our first year.

C2: Creating a Mental Health Hub

Speaker: Janice Beatty

It is well documented that college students today face a variety of mental health challenges. Although colleges are not health care facilities, there are structures and supports that can be engaged to help students and institutions with the issues they face and thereby enhance student success and institutional strength. The presentation will provide an overview of the mental health hub structure as well as provide information on some key support areas.

C4: Re-thinking How Students Access and Receive Mental Health Support on Campus – A Collaborative & Data Driven Approach

Speakers: Dr. Puneet Seth & Areeba Athar

In fall 2016, the University of British Columbia Campus Health took a bold step towards improving the care they provided to their students by migrating their health record system from a traditional EMR to a cloud-based Collaborative Health Record (CHR). In doing so, the fundamentals of how students access and receive mental health care entirely changed. By shifting to a system of engagement, students can book appointments online, have direct message conversations with their care team, report their symptoms and quality of life, connect with a virtual visit and receive tailored education – all through the click of a mouse. This presentation will take a look at the novel model of mental health delivery being utilized at UBC, some of the challenges they’ve faced in the transition, as well feedback from staff and students alike, and also hear from the audience on barriers and experiences they might perceive in deploying a similar solution in their institutions.

Networking Rooms

D1: Accessibility on Campus (Mahadeo Sukhai)

D2: Reducing the Harms of Substance Abuse on Campus (Tamar Meyer)

D3: Apps for Campus Mental Health (Simon Hatcher)

D4: Student Leaders Addressing MH & Addictions (Sophie Helpard & Abdullah Mushtaq)

E1: A Post-Secondary Harm Reduction Based Approach to the Opioid Crisis

Speaker: Ben Bridgstock

In the early 1980’s there was a growing understanding and concern around HIV infection rates in injecting drug user populations. This led to significant changes in service provision – with harm reduction based strategies being used to great effect in substance abuse for the first time. Now, over 30 years later we have an opioid crisis in both the US and Canada that calls for significant changes in service delivery models if the crisis is to be managed effectively. Utilizing the lessons learnt from implementing harm reduction based interventions in the 1980’s can and should inform post-secondary institutions response to the current opioid crisis. This presentation will highlight evidence based harm reduction based strategies that can be used to address the current crisis in the post-secondary sector.

E2: Changing the Culture of Mental Health on Campus

Speakers: Andrew Szeto & Debbie Bruckner

It has been a year and a half since the University of Calgary launched it Campus Mental Health Strategy in December 2015. Implementation of this Strategy is ramping up with a majority of the 28 recommendations well underway and the implementation advisory committee guiding the process. This session will provide a brief overview of the Strategy development process and some of the current implementation highlights. More importantly, this session will focus on the implementation processes, barriers and challenges to implementations, and lessons learn from implementation. Through group work and discussion, this session will provide useful information for campuses looking to develop or implement their own mental health strategy.

E3: Accessible Mental Health Services

Speaker: Mahadeo Sukhai


E4: Mental Health Apps on Campus

Speaker: Dr. Simon Hatcher


Hotel & Visitor Info

This year’s conference will be hosted at the Courtyard Marriot, 475 Yonge St, Toronto.

Our special group rate is 239 CAD per night

Book your group rate for 2017 Centre for Innovation Campus Mental Health (CICMH) Conference

Call hotel:  1-416-924-0611 or 1-800-847-5075 and ask for the 2017 Centre for Innovation Campus Mental Health Conference block rate.

Last day to book: 16/10/17

If you wish to contact us with questions or for more information about the conference, please email Sherry Sim

Thank you.