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Agenda and Speakers

Workplace Mental Health 2017Jun 14–15, 2017 Toronto

Certified Disability Management Professionals logo

CSPDM Members Can Earn CEC Hours

The Canadian Society of Professionals in Disability Management recognizes the Workplace Mental Health Conference will provide an opportunity for CDMP and CRTWC professionals to receive Continuing Education Credit hours. It is expected that professionals who attend the full conference and optimize all learning activities may be credited with up to 10 CEC hours.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

7:45 AM Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:15 AM Opening Remarks from the Chair
Brewer <br />  
Executive Program Developer
The Conference Board of Canada
8:30 AM Plenary Session 1
Conference Board of Canada Original Research: Healthy Brains at Work—The Impact of Workplace Mental Health Initiatives

No one, and no workplace, is immune to mental illness.

And as research continues to show, poor mental health can negatively impact an individual's health, well-being, and productivity. Organizations that pay attention to the mental health and wellness of their employees are likely to realize significant benefits through a healthier, more productive workforce. How does your organization fare?

In this third briefing in our Healthy Brains at Work research series we explore the potential impact of improving outcomes for working Canadians living with mental illness. We also explore the potential impact of improving outcomes for Canadians whose symptoms prevent them from entering the workforce.

During this session, you'll hear about:

  • the state of mental illness in the workplace—where we are, and how far we've come
  • the impact of mental illness on workplace functionality and performance
  • the demographics of mental illness: breakdowns by age, sex, and other factors
  • the prevalence of mental illness within certain industries and the growing need for mental health care within these vulnerable groups
  • the significant benefits of addressing mental health issues before they become serious problems

Thériault <br />  
Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy
The Conference Board of Canada
9:15 AM Plenary Session 2
Depression in the Workplace—Optimal Disability Management

This session will provide an overview of the impact of depressive disorders and associated costs to the workplace. Evidence-based interventions will be reviewed with an emphasis on reducing barriers to effective treatment and promoting return to work.

Bender <br />  
Occupational Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
10:00 AM Mindful Stretch and Networking Break

Join Evonne Sullivan for simple yoga stretches and spend some time accessing the mind-body connection. Following the stretch break, join your colleagues for a networking break before our first set of concurrent sessions.

Sullivan <br />  
Registered Yoga Teacher & Certified Human Resources Leader
10:30 AM Concurrent Sessions—Set A
(please choose one)
10:30 AM Concurrent Session A1
The Impact of Isolation and Loneliness on Mental Health and the Impact on the Workplace

"There is such a stigma about [loneliness]. People will talk about having depression or even schizophrenia, but … I've been practicing for more than 30 years, and never has anyone come to me and said, 'I feel lonely.' But then they start talking and it comes out."

—Ami Rokach, Ph.D., York University Clinical Psychologist
(quoted in the Globe and Mail, November 2013)

Much research has shown a strong link between isolation and loneliness and poor mental and even physical health. It has been linked with depression, anxiety, interpersonal hostility, increased vulnerability to health problems, and even suicide.

And yet while isolation is increasing—more Canadians live alone and work remotely—there remains much ignorance around the issue and considerable stigma. In this session, Professor Ami Rokach will discuss the issue.

Rokach <br />  
Clinical Psychologist
York University
10:30 AM Concurrent Session A2
Case Study: Making Mental Health Part of the Culture at GE Canada

Like organizations across Canada, GE Canada found that stress and other mental health issues account for much of the use of employee and family assistance programs. And of course that is just one part of the business case for taking action—and that is what GE did, implementing a series of programs over a four-year period that have had a significant impact on the mental health of employees.

In this session, Diana McNiven will share these initiatives and discuss how GE have gone beyond just processes and support to help build a culture that supports mental wellbeing. Among the initiatives she will discuss are:

  • specific training for all managers on how to help employees suffering from stress and depression get the support they need without fear of being stigmatized
  • encouraging and facilitating the sharing of best practices across the organization
  • a program of volunteer employees who act as "mental health allies"
  • making available resources that help employees with resiliency and coping skills

McNiven <br />  
Manager, Compensation and Benefits
GE Canada
11:15 AM Travel to Concurrent Sessions—Set B
11:30 AM Concurrent Sessions—Set B
(please choose one)
11:30 AM Concurrent Session B1
Mental Health and the Dark Side of Leadership—The Wellness Effects of Narcissistic and Psychopathic Leaders

In the past few years several research studies have shown a greater prevalence of psychopathic and narcissism traits in leaders than in the general population. And anecdotally when many people reflect on poor leaders they have worked with they often identify characteristics as being psychopathic—a lack of empathy, bullying, etc. Of course in doing so, they largely rely on pop culture definitions of psychopaths and narcissists.

But what does this mean for the workplace? Well, few are better placed to explain this than Professor Mathieu whose ongoing research sheds light on this little discussed issue. In this session, she will discuss the clinical definition of psychopathy and narcissism, share the results of her research, and explore the impact these leaders have on the mental health of others and how you can better respond if you have the misfortune to have one as your leader.

Mathieu <br />  
Professor, Human Resources Department
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
11:30 AM Concurrent Session B2
From Gen Z to Boomers—Workplace Mental Health Support for all Generations

Life stage matters when it comes to support for mental health, as the causes and incidence of stress, depression, and anxiety can differ greatly across generations. How can employers support the mental health needs of four generations of employees: Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers?

While there are overlaps in strategies across age groups, there are many differences as well. This session will discuss the strategies that can support employee mental health at every life stage—as well as highlight the profound impact that physical and financial health can have on mental health.

Pelletier <br />  
Assistant Vice-President, Workplace Health
Sun Life Financial Canada
12:15 PM Travel to Luncheon
12:30 PM Networking Luncheon
1:15 PM Travel to Concurrent Sessions—Set C
1:30 PM Concurrent Sessions—Set C
(please choose one)
1:30 PM Concurrent Session C1
Building a Wellness Culture: Bell Case Study

Launched in 2010, "Bell Let's Talk" has changed the conversation about mental health in Canada, while driving new funding to support mental health programs improving the lives of thousands of Canadians. While most are familiar with the public face of "Bell Let's Talk", Bell has also been a leader in developing initiatives that support the well-being of its more than 50,000 employees across Canada.

In this session, Bell will provide an overview of workplace mental health programs that support the psychological well-being of its employees and their families. Bell will share case studies of the programming executed to engage its highly diverse national employee base. This session will also feature a specific "in-market" case study provided by one of Bell's partners, LifeSpeak, on how digital well-being programming, focused on mental health, has delivered on-going support to employees and garnered exceptional results.

Favreau <br />  
Director Mental Health, Disability Management and Workplace Practices
Bell Canada
Weill <br />  
Vice-President, Partnerships
LifeSpeak Inc.
1:30 PM Concurrent Session C2
Mental Health First Aid

Do you know what to do in the event someone in your workplace is suffering a mental health crisis? If not, you need to implement a mental first aid program along the lines of traditional first aid programs.

In this session you, will hear about the mental first aid program, the training experience, and the results achieved. This will include a mini demonstration.

St. John Ambulance will also discuss related initiatives such as the Therapy Dog Program—and therapy dogs will be on hand to create a stress releasing environment!

Gaetz <br />  
Chief Executive Officer
St. John Ambulance Nova Scotia
2:15 PM Travel to Concurrent Sessions—Set D
2:30 PM Concurrent Sessions—Set D
(please choose one)
2:30 PM Concurrent Session D1
Make Three Minutes Matter: CivicAction's MindsMatter Program

CivicAction's MindsMatter program is a direct response to research the organization released in 2016 in partnership with Morneau Shepell and Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA). The research estimates that half of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton's labour force has experienced a mental health issue and over the next decade, current mental health issues could cost the region $17 billion in lost productivity.

"The workplace is where so many of us spend so much of our day, and it can, and should, be a better place to support people's mental health," said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction. "CivicAction invites all employers—regardless of size, sector or where they're at with mental health—to join the MindsMatter program to strengthen our people, our businesses, and our economy."

In this session, you will hear more about the research and CivicAction's assessment tool, the first of its kind in Canada. It provides employers with a tailored report that provides three actions and a sampling of resources suggested by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Palvetzian <br />  
Chief Executive Officer
2:30 PM Concurrent Session D2
Developing a Healthy Relationship with Technology in a Device Addicted World

"Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all."

—Arthur C. Clarke

According to research by CAMH, in 2015 24% of adults tried to cut back their use of electronic devices, while 10% experienced an irresistible urge or uncontrollable need to use one. Overall, seven per cent of all Ontario adults—representing an estimated 716,100 people—experienced moderate to severe problematic use, defined as experiencing three or more out of six symptoms related to problematic use.

Other research indicates device use can impair sleep and excessive social media use relates both to depression and anxiety.

We've all experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by the pace and volume of communication in today's workplace. This session will discuss the extent of these problems, the impact on mental health, and actions you can take to create a healthier relationship with technology and thus a healthier mind.

Hamilton <br />  
Research Scientist, Institute for Mental Health Policy Research
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
3:15 PM Refreshment and Pranayama Break

Before the final session of the day, Evonne will lead the group in Pranayama (breath work) and mindfulness exercises.

Sullivan <br />  
Registered Yoga Teacher & Certified Human Resources Leader
3:30 PM Plenary Session 3
Can I Help?A Game on Mental Health and Workplace Wellbeing

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is a Federal leader in launching initiatives and supporting opportunities for staff to discuss and seek help on mental health. Shereen Benzvy Miller will share why this is a priority for the department and some activities she has championed, including a new wellness centre open to all staff.

One important part of the focus on mental health in the Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada has been the development of a card game that encourages dialogue about mental health and workplace wellbeing. Developed by Tabatha Soltay, this game allows people to explore mental health and workplace wellbeing in a non-threatening and collaborative environment.

And at this event you will have the opportunity to play the game—a unique opportunity to interact with your colleagues as you enjoy this learning activity.

Benzvy-Miller <br />  
Deputy Chairperson, Refugee Protection Division
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Soltay <br />  
5:00 PM Closing Remarks from the Chair
Brewer <br />  
Executive Program Developer
The Conference Board of Canada
5:15 PM Day 1 Adjourns

Thursday, June 15, 2017

7:45 AM Continental Breakfast
8:15 AM Opening Remarks from the Chair
Brewer <br />  
Executive Program Developer
The Conference Board of Canada
8:20 AM Morning Stretch

To kick off the second day, Evonne will lead the group in chair yoga and stretches. These are exercises you'll be able to use throughout the day, as well as in your own offices and work environments. .

Sullivan <br />  
Registered Yoga Teacher & Certified Human Resources Leader
8:30 AM Plenary Session 4
What do you say when……? Continuing the Conversation—How Best to Approach Difficult Communications in the Workplace

People often feel ill equipped to address challenges in the workplace, especially of health and performance. But the reality is that having difficult conversations—identifying and addressing the issues in a caring and constructive way—is essential to create a psychologically safe, healthy and productive workplace. Following on from the concluding discussions from day one, communication and wellness expert Loretta Brill will dig even deeper into the dynamics of communication regarding mental health in the workplace. Based on her extensive experience in organizations she will share ideas on how to create an environment of open and frank, but respectful, communication. She will work with you in a highly interactive session to explore ways to have conversations that share accountability and provide support.

Brill <br />  
Chief Executive Officer
Nxknowledge Corporation
9:10 AM Plenary Session 5
Supporting the Mental Health of First Responders in Canada

Mental health and illness, including depression, post-traumatic stress, and operational stress injuries are an important area of concern amongst first responder disciplines across the country.

First responders are trained to run into critical situations that most other people would run away from. The operational duties of first responders place them at an increased risk of developing an operational stress injury, suffering from depression, somatic or psychosomatic complaints, chronic fatigue, and substance use, when compared to the general population. Further, stigma around mental health and illness persists and leaders of first responder organizations are not immune to the challenge of prioritizing and determining where to invest limited financial and human resources.

While many first responder organizations across Canada have adopted or are beginning to implement leading practices in mental health promotion and protection, much work is still needed to raise awareness about leading practices and identify opportunities to support first responder in protecting and promoting psychological health and safety.

This session will outline solutions as well as enabling success factors that should be considered for supporting the mental wellbeing of first responders in Canada.

Thorpe <br />  
Director, Prevention and Promotion Initiatives
Mental Health Commission of Canada
9:55 AM Refreshment Break
10:05 AM Plenary Session 6
Building Resilience at Work—How Mindfulness-Based e-Learning Can Help You Bounce Back Better (Whether You Work in Burning Buildings or Behind a Desk)

Following on from the previous discussion about first responders in Canada Sadhbh (Sive) Joyce will join us from Australia. Sadhbh has recently completed a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) with 140 Australian Firefighters examining the benefits of a novel, online training program. Her pilot study found significant positive improvements in Resilience as measured by the CDRISC-10 and reductions in symptoms associated with stress and mental health outcomes. Sadhbh has also translated this research into a commercially available e-learning program ( which has already been adopted by a number of major Australian employers.

Sadhbh will share insights into the key factors which are known to build resilience and present thought-provoking findings from her research trial. She will also explain what it takes to bridge the gap between the research and business worlds and highlight a few of the essential ingredients required to make e-learning programs highly accessible, engaging, and effective.

Joyce <br />  
Psychologist, Workplace Mental Health Research Team, UNSW, Australia and
10:50 AM Plenary Session 7
Succeeding at Change—What do your Change Leaders Know About Mental Health?

In today's marketplace, organizations must be able to adapt quickly to the changing environment in order to remain competitive. The increased speed and frequency of organizational change brings both opportunities and challenges for today's workforce.

Although necessary, change is stressful and can be overwhelming for people with mental health concerns. During this session, we will explore the impact of change on employees with particular attention to the challenges and stressors faced by those with an underlying mental health condition. Strategies for supporting employees as they contend with their experiences of organizational change and uncertainty will be discussed.

Spetch <br />  
Vice-President , Workplace Health and Research
Homewood Health
11:35 AM Plenary Session 8
Via Rail’s Journey To A Psychologically Healthy and Safe Workplace

Via Rail is one of 40 organizations working with MHCC to implement their Standard. In this session, Marie Claude will share the journey, the progress that has been made and the path ahead. This will include discussion of:

  • leadership school: mandatory training to all managers on how to promote a psychologically healthy and safe workplace
  • how to address early intervention
  • mandatory training on achieving a healthy and respectful workplace for all employees
  • training on Mental Health First Aid across Canada
  • Multiple LifeSpeak campaign
  • guidelines for managers addressing best practices in disability management and early intervention
  • starting in June 2017, working group “ambassadors” across Canada
  • development of a “creative dash board”

Laporte <br />  
CRIA Senior Advisor, Disability Management and Wellness
VIA Rail Canada Inc.
12:15 PM Closing Remarks from the Chair
Brewer <br />  
Executive Program Developer
The Conference Board of Canada
12:30 PM Luncheon for Post-Conference Optional Workshop Participants
1:15 PM Post-Conference Optional Workshop
Improving Mental Health At Work: Promising Practices For Employers

In 2014, Mental Health Commission of Canada began a three year implementation study (Case Study Research Project) aimed at understanding promising practices among Canadian employers to implement The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard). Released in 2013, the Standard is a voluntary set of tools provided to employers at no cost. The Standard allows organizations to systematically promote and protect mental health of their employees. Downloaded over 35,000 times, the Standard is being adopted by all types of organizations.

This workshop will provide you with an overview of evidence based practices, tools and resources to assist employers in implementing the Standard. The session will include case studies and success stories from organizations of varying types and sizes across Canada, based on the learnings of a three year research project, to stimulate discussion and sharing of best practices among participants. You will take away knowledge of practical tools you can implement in your own work environments to get started or progress on your own unique journey of addressing workplace mental health.

Thorpe <br />  
Director, Prevention and Promotion Initiatives
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Rewari <br />  
Program Manager, Workplace Mental Health
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Dunlop <br />  
Corporate Wellness Specialist, York Region Human Resources Services
Regional Municipality of York
Gilbert <br />  
Adjunct Professor, Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction
Simon Fraser University
McCarney-Warus <br />  
Program Manager, Workplace Mental Health
Enbridge Gas Distribution
4:30 PM Post-Conference Optional Workshop Adjourns


We’d like to thank our generous sponsors for their contribution to this event.

Mental Health Commission of Canada logo

Sun Life Financial logo

Homewood Health logo

Lundbeck Canada Inc. logo


AGS Rehab Solutions Inc. logo

Banyan Work Health Solutions Inc. logo

Canadian Council on Rehabilitation of Work logo

LifeSpeak Inc. logo

Tri Fit Inc. logo  

     Medisys Health Group logo

Virgin Pulse logo

Marketing Partners


Canadian Society of Professionals in Disability Management logo

Civic Action logo

Helix Healthcare Group logo

Toronto Corporate Run logo

Special Contributors

Data on the Spot logo

FitterFirst logo

Evonne Sullivan logo

Travel Partner

Image of VIA Rail Canada Inc. logo

The details of this event are subject to change. Please revisit this page periodically for updated information.