The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on heath care systems and economies across the globe. This unprecedented uncertainty requires organizations to move from simply being aware of the importance of mental health to taking specific action for building psychologically safe workplaces.

Strong mental health supports positive impacts on productivity, engagement, retention, and overall well-being. But intense challenges such as unknowns about the future, loneliness, and burnout are weighing heavily on many employees.

As more organizations work to implement mental health and wellness strategies to help their employees and their businesses thrive … how do we ensure these investments really work?

What to expect

The Mental Health Gap will focus on the central themes of employee experience, well-being, and psychological safety.

How do we define employee experience? It’s the everyday encounters—positive and negative—that affect employees’ mental health and impact their career life cycle from entry to exit. Positive experiences range from rewards and recognition for outstanding work to healthy manager–employee relationships, clarity on roles and responsibilities, and how employees are valued within the organization. Negative experiences can include unclear expectations on what success looks like, exposure to incivility, and feelings of exclusion.

Current research suggests that psychological safety plays a critical role in predicting whether the employee experience will be positive or negative. But making a commitment to create a psychologically safe workplace is much easier than achieving the desired outcomes.

Leading insights with practical take-aways

Awareness

Understanding the impact employee experience can have on your employees’ health and productivity is critical. You will explore how examining your mental health initiatives through the lens of employee experience can help determine their effectiveness.

Empathy

Check-the-box initiatives are not acceptable. The stakes around employee psychological safety are too high, and the financial costs affect the bottom line when initiatives don’t have the desired result. Employee expectations and needs are increasing, as are changes in occupational health and safety legislation, and employers are being held more accountable for facilitating psychological safety. Match expectations and gain insights on what you can do to influence the employee experience.

Action

You will get exposure to leading experts and peers who will provide insight to help positively influence the employee experience. These new insights can help you introduce new ways of thinking that will challenge the status quo.

Read more

Featured speakers

All speakers

Paula Allen

Paula
Allen

Michel Arsenault

Michel
Arsenault

geneviève bich

geneviève
bich

Joe Blomeley

Joe
Blomeley

Lori Casselman

Lori
Casselman

Jean-François Claude

Jean-François Claude

Jennifer Elia

Jennifer
Elia

Jason Finucan

Jason
Finucan

Andrew Harkness

Andrew Harkness

Hailey Hechtman

Hailey
Hechtman

Chris Hill

Chris
Hill

Corrina Hill

Corrina
Hill

Dr. Bill Howatt

Bill
Howatt

Jennifer Kapala

Jennifer
Kapala

Barb Keenan

Barb
Keenan

William Lindsay

William Lindsay

Steve Low

Steve
Low

Diane McIntosh

Diane
McIntosh

Agnes McLachlan

Agnes
McLachlan

Santa Ono

Santa
Ono

David Schwarz

David
Schwarz

Yanique Smith

Yanique
Smith

Julie Zarifeh

Al-Kareem
Visram

Donald Walling

Donald
Walling

Art Wlodyka

Art
Wlodyka

Julie Zarifeh

Julie
Zarifeh

Agenda

Please note: All agenda times are in Eastern Standard Time. See what time that is for you.

Share this event

View the agenda and access links for each session on March 30.

1:00 p.m.

Co-hosts

Bryan Benjamin

Vice-President
The Conference Board of Canada

Erin Mills

Associate Director
Workplace Health
The Conference Board of Canada

1:15 p.m.
Keynote

The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that half of Canadians live with mental illness, either as a patient or a caregiver. In 2017, Johnson & Johnson became the first U.S. employer to launch an employee resource group (ERG) for employees living with mental illness, thereby identifying and organizing a new group of employees not widely considered part of diversity and inclusion strategies. The ERG is a voluntary, employee-led group that focuses on shared identities/affinities and experiences and looks to apply those perspectives to initiatives that create value for all of Johnson & Johnson.

In his presentation, Craig Kramer, Johnson & Johnson’s Mental Health Ambassador, will outline why the company made this move, why mental health is so important for employers, its connections with diversity and inclusion, and how leading companies can collaborate to help reduce stigma, foster healthier workforces, and build a more accepting and inclusive working world.

Discover how Johnson & Johnson is helping to lead the transformation of mental health care in Canada and feel empowered to be a leader in your own family and community.

Craig Kramer

Mental Health Ambassador
Johnson & Johnson

2:00 p.m.
WSPS Prevention Roadmap

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), in partnership with The Conference Board of Canada, developed a the Mental Harm Prevention Roadmap, which is aligned to the three tenets of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace: to prevent mental harm, promote mental health, and resolve incidents or concerns in the workplace. During this session Dr. Bill Howatt and Andrew Harkness will explore how to move from a roadmap to implementation and action.

Speakers

Andrew Harkness

Strategy Advisor-Organizational Health Initiatives, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) of Ontario

Dr. Bill Howatt

President and Founder
Howatt HR

2:15 p.m.
Break
2:30 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions—Set A (please select one)

A1—Mental health: From technological innovation to human progress

Mental health accounts for 30 per cent of disability cases in Canada, but 70 per cent of costs. And the situation may well get worse after the pandemic. Businesses and insurers must make a concerted effort to innovate across the board from prevention to treatment. But what kind of innovation are we talking about? Up until now, psychological health has been largely unreceptive to technology, but it has recently taken a giant leap forward thanks to artificial intelligence. Now, psychological health is at the heart of a lucrative market where the need to sell sometimes takes precedence over the will to cure. With this in mind, real innovation–the kind that can prevent illness and ensure a safe work environment–may come from elsewhere. This presentation will give you a behind-the-scenes look at new technologies and into the heart of organizations, where the future of mental health is unfolding.

William Lindsay

Plan Sponsor Service Advisor
Disability Management and Prevention

Moderator:

Corrina Hill

Manager
BC Hydro Health and Recovery Services

Sponsored by:

Desjardins Insurance

A2—Understanding and supporting a diverse workplace

This session will help participants:

  • Understand what it means to be transgender
  • Understand the differences between gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression
  • Understand challenges for transgender issues
  • Learn how to successfully support a transgender employee and the organization
Michel Arsenault

Clinical Director
Ontario and Digital Clinical Services, Morneau Shepell

Moderator:

Jennifer Kapala

Human Resources Manager
Business Advisory Services

Sponsored by:

Morneau Shepell

3:15 p.m.
Break and pre-recorded session

Each vignette at this hands-on learning event will highlight practical tips and tricks to address a specific element or theme of psychological safety in the workplace, by health professionals, service providers, and people with lived experience.

3:30 p.m.
Keynote

Stress is a part of life, especially with the triggers a pandemic brings. But using humour and other simple coping mechanisms can improve your emotional well-being. We’re more likely to live healthy, productive lives if we maintain our physical and emotional resilience, and this laugh-out-loud presentation offers simple, achievable steps to go from treading water to reigniting their spark. Jessica proves that comedy is more than an entertainment form; it’s a powerful filter through which you can navigate stressful situations, empowering you to recover from setbacks and face challenges more easily.

Inspired by her “second chance at life” after recovering from depression, Jessica trained as a wellness coach. She re-committed her life to sharing the tools that create lasting joy and fulfillment through her invigorating keynotes and as an ambassador for the Bell Let’s Talk initiative. She’s honoured to share hilarious and meaningful anecdotes and even a few impressions to drive home a message of empowerment to help others thrive and find power in their laughter.

Jessica Holmes

Celebrated Comedian, Author, and Mental Health Advocate

4:15 p.m.

Co-hosts

Bryan Benjamin

Vice-President
The Conference Board of Canada

Erin Mills

Associate Director
Workplace Health
The Conference Board of Canada

View the agenda and access links for each session on March 31.

1:00 p.m.

Co-hosts

Bryan Benjamin

Vice-President
The Conference Board of Canada

Erin Mills

Associate Director
Workplace Health
The Conference Board of Canada

1:05 p.m.
Keynote

Whatever your job, ignoring the mental health of your workplace is bad for business.

Most people spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else. However, two-thirds of employees are concerned about the psychological safety of their workplace. In any given week, hundreds of thousands of employees are off work due to a mental health problem or illness. Depression alone is the single largest contributor to years lived with disability. Yet, only about a quarter of people would feel comfortable talking to their employer about a mental illness.

Evidence from around the world is growing and convincing: promotion, prevention, and early intervention initiatives for workplace mental health show positive returns on investment.

So how do we create or improve the mental health and safety of our workplace? What are the current best and promising practices for supporting employee health and productivity? Where do you start, how do you take it to the next level, and what resources, tools, and training are available to help?

Mark Henick draws on his years of personal and professional experience in mental health, including managing a national workplace mental health training program and running a corporate mental health strategy consulting firm. He helps employers, employees, unions, and professional associations to clarify their needs in a manner tailored to them.

In this interactive workshop, Mark will help you better understand what works and what doesn’t in supporting employee mental health. He provides insights on implementing effective workplace mental health strategies and calls on employees at every level to play an active role.

Mark brings his passion for mental health to every presentation because he firmly believes that supporting the mental health of your workforce is more than a smart business decision.

Mark Henick

Mental Health Advocate and Strategist, and Top 50 TEDx Speaker

1:50 p.m.
Fireside chat

Join Julie and Jason for a candid conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health sector in both Canada and New Zealand. This session will touch on subjects such as grieving the loss of normalcy during lockdowns, dealing with multiple and competing emergencies, and the stigma around mental health. If you want to learn more about their personal journeys in the mental health sector, check out their personal spotlights.

Julie Zarifeh

Trainer/Clinician
New Zealand Institute of Wellness & Resilience

Jason Finucan

Founder, StigmaZero | Author | Stigmafighter

Moderator:

Jennifer Elia

Vice President
Future of Work, Excellence Canada

2:15 p.m.
Break
2:30 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions—Set B (please select one)

B1—The unfolding world of digital therapeutics

Could digital therapy be the next blockbuster drug? In an over-prescribed world, digital therapeutics offer a low-cost alternative or accompaniment to medication. This is a particularly exciting development for mental health. Interventions like internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) have the potential to dramatically lower costs and improve access to mental health treatment while reducing our reliance on prescription drugs. So why aren’t these technologies more widespread—especially when they’re clinically validated? How can employers and governments promote and scale these services? In this presentation, Green Shield Canada will share their experiences with iCBT, their moves into digital health, and their fast-growing relationship with digital therapy provider Mind Beacon.

Joe Blomeley

Executive Vice President, Individual
Mental Health and Public Sector

Moderator:

Agnes McLachlan

Senior Workplace Health Advisor
City of Barrie

Sponsored by:

GreenSheild

B2—Employee engagement for better mental health

The future of work is here. It’s mobile, it’s transitional, and it’s likely that flexible, personalized work scenarios will remain the norm for many organizations. So how do you keep employees feeling engaged, connected, and fully supported with fewer face-to-face interactions? Globally, employers have responded to this challenge in unique, creative ways. Join us to learn how employers are re-imagining their employee engagement and mental health strategies.

Lori Casselman

President and Chief Revenue Officer
Wello Virtual Healthcare

Moderator:

Yanique Smith

Director, Well-being & Accessibility
Rogers Canada Communications Inc.

Sponsored by:

Wello

3:15 p.m.
Break and pre-recorded session

Each vignette at this hands-on learning event will highlight practical tips and tricks to address a specific element or theme of psychological safety in the workplace, by health professionals, service providers, and people with lived experience.

3:30 p.m.
Keynote

Based on her lived experience, Hayley will offer a lively and interactive session on the fears and challenges that can accompany an employee looking to disclose a mental illness in the workplace. Hayley will offer personal insights into how employers can build their communication skillset in an effort to better support employees. Learning how to support someone who’s struggling is a key element in fostering a culture of psychological safety in the workplace. Peer support principles can teach us how to create a healthier dynamic among management and staff.

Hayley Peek

Mental Health Consultant & Peer Supporter,
Co-Creator of Supporting Through Struggle™

4:15 p.m.

Co-hosts

Bryan Benjamin

Vice-President
The Conference Board of Canada

Erin Mills

Associate Director
Workplace Health
The Conference Board of Canada

4:30 p.m.
Meet the speaker

Join Hayley Peeks in an intimate conversation to ask questions about her presentation and follow up with any insights.

Moderator: TBD

Speaker

Hayley Peek

Mental Health Consultant & Peer Supporter,
Co-Creator of Supporting Through Struggle™

View the agenda and access links for each session on April 31.

1:00 p.m.

Co-hosts

Bryan Benjamin

Vice-President
The Conference Board of Canada

Erin Mills

Associate Director
Workplace Health
The Conference Board of Canada

1:05 p.m.
Keynote

The global pandemic has underscored the critical importance of enhancing our psychological health, wellness, and resilience—as individuals, and as organizations. Statistics don’t lie. In 2017, the World Health Organization identified mental health issues as being the leading cause of global disability. Over the past eight months, rates of alcohol use have increased, rates of depression have doubled, and rates of anxiety have quadrupled. Now, more than ever, we have an imperative to take action. In this session, you will learn evidence-based, actionable steps to enhance the psychological safety of work environments; how to equip our people leaders with the skills, strategies, and approaches to effectively support the workforce; and steps to enhance your own personal wellness and resilience.

Joti Samra

CEO & Founder, MyWorkplaceHealth, and
Principal, Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych. & Associates

1:50 p.m.
Transition break
2:00 p.m.
Fireside Chat–Set B (Please select one)

This interactive session will highlight the importance of leaders’ mental health in the workplace.

While organizations are searching out high-quality leaders, the leaders themselves are balancing the demands of day-to-day operations while supporting the well-being of their employees. In this session, we will have a conversation on how we support those who support others. This session will provide a platform to discuss how organizations can better support leaders and the ripple impacts seen when leaders set the boundaries needed for self-care.

Please come prepared to ask questions as we will have time for Q&A.

Moderator:

Jean-François Claude

Co-Chair,
Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Panelists:

Santa Ono

President & Vice-Chancellor
University of British Columbia

David Schwarz

SVP Compensation & Benefits
RBC

Barb Keenan

SVP Human Resources
LCBO

This interactive session will highlight the importance of employees’ mental health in the workplace.

Balancing work and life throughout the pandemic has been challenging, and many fear that employee burnout is on the rise. What is the role of leaders to prevent burnout and create an environment of psychological safety? In this session, leaders will share their views on the challenges, opportunities, and key strategies for senior management to strengthen the mental health and well-being of employees.

Please come prepared to ask questions as we will have time for Q&A.

Moderator:

geneviève bich

Vice President, Human Resources
Metro Inc.

Panelists:

Chris Hill

Chief Operating Officer
Modern Niagara Group Inc.

Paula Allen

Global leader and Senior Vice President, Research and Total Wellbeing
Morneau Shepell

Diane McIntosh

Chief Neuroscience Officer, TELUS

2:45 p.m.
Break
3:00 p.m.
Keynote

The change to our work and home lives happened rapidly and without notice. Since March 2020, many of us have been operating in crisis mode—quick pivots, learning new policies and processes on the fly, all while navigating a growing societal unrest. Some of us are juggling a new work-from-home life. Others are navigating the pandemic outside their homes, and some are working right in the middle of the fight. One thing is clear: We are all battling the stress that is unavoidable in a global pandemic.

As we wade into unchartered waters, we need the resources to maintain our resilience. Jennifer Moss, globally recognized expert on burnout and author of The Burnout Epidemic, can provide us with strategies to navigate these challenging times. Jennifer will discuss the prevention strategies and tactics to manage burnout during times of stress. She will walk us through our current realities and provide tangible solutions to increase psychological fitness for a healthier and happier today and post-pandemic world.

Topics will include:

  • The myths and facts about burnout
  • The role of the organization in preventing burnout
  • How each of us can identify and prevent burnout
  • The current realities of working during COVID-19 and how to handle the rapid shifts while maintaining positive mental health
  • How to build the psychological fitness skills—particularly hope and resilience—to protect your well-being during crisis
Jennifer Moss

Journalist, Author, and International Public Speaker

3:45 p.m.

Co-hosts

Bryan Benjamin

Vice-President
The Conference Board of Canada

Erin Mills

Associate Director
Workplace Health
The Conference Board of Canada

Hailey Hechtman


Executive Director, Causeway Work Centre

Hailey Hechtman is a creative, intentional and purpose-driven social impact leader with a passion for co-creative team development, strength-based program implementation and collective impact. She has 10 years of experience working in the social services sector with an aim for promoting thoughtful leadership and aligned decision-making for mental wellness, disability, and youth organizations. She is a strong communicator with a background in direct service provision that recognizes both the importance of a big-picture perspective and a practical, hands-on philosophy towards creating sustainable change.

Some of her career highlights include founding the Yukon Distress & Support Line, establishing the Yukon Inter-Agency Network on Disability, creating standardized narrative reporting processes for the Yukon Government and spearheading the Learning Essential Support Skills Online (LESSON) program. She recently moved back to Ottawa and has begun her exciting next chapter as the Executive Director for Causeway Work Centre where she can continue to pursue her passion for supporting meaningful community engagement, partnerships and person-centered planning.

Jason Finucan


Founder, StigmaZero | Author | Stigmafighter

Jason Finucan, founder of StigmaZero and author of the book Jason: 1 | Stigma: 0 — My Battle With Mental Illness at Home and in the Workplace, will deliver an engaging spotlight on his personal experiences with physical illness, mental illness, and stigma. This session will be sure to open your eyes to the challenge that stigma presents in every workplace—and you will learn an important reality: while mental illness can be treated, with the right training, stigma can be cured.

Steve Low


President and Chief Operating Officer, Aurora Recovery Centre

Steve Low shares his own journey and struggle with substance abuse and mental health illness. His story highlights the importance of peer support and training in order to check in, recognize the signs, and have the conversation with those who are struggling.

Now working to support others through the Aurora Recovery Centre, Steve shares professional insights on important changes within the field of addiction recovery, including focusing on strengths and building resiliency, and creating a system of care around an individual. He also highlights the use of language throughout these transitions and the importance of celebrating recovery.

Watch the video to hear more and meet Steve.

Al-Kareem Visram


Provisionally Registered Psychologist

Al-Kareem Visram spent much of his early career focusing on workplace mental health and wellness, including mental health education, peer support, and critical incident stress management, all while managing the aquatics division for a local municipality. Find out more about his journey from recreation aquatics management to psychologist.

Donald Walling


Prosci Certified Change Management Practitioner

With over 36 years of experience in business—including decades focused on change management—Donald Walling has some important insights to share on managing change. He has observed a connection between changes and employee mental health and psychological safety. For example, observing and listening to those impacted and ensuring that people share ownership of the vision can mitigate some of the alienation and isolation that individuals might experience during change.

So what is the link to psychological safety? Watch Don’s spotlight for the answer to that question.

Art Wlodyka


Police Officer and Mental Health Clinician

Art Wlodyka M.A., RCC, is a Police Officer and Mental Health Clinician. He has worked in law enforcement for the past fourteen years, holding roles in the patrol division, on the emergency response team, and as a hostage and crisis negotiator. In 2013, he was the founding member of a Police Mental Health Unit. Since that time, he has assisted hundreds of individuals in crisis, and in 2017 named by CAMH as one of 150 Canadians making a difference in the field of mental health. He is a certified workplace Psychological Health Advisor and a Critical Incident Stress Management Team leader. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia, where his research focused on police stress and ways to improve psychological support for law enforcement officers.

Julie Zarifeh


Trainer, Clinician, New Zealand Institute of Wellness & Resilience

Julie is a published author, researcher, and a registered clinical psychologist in New Zealand. She has a long career in the mental heath sector, assessing and treating people living with mental diagnoses. In 2017, Julie’s life changed dramatically and tragically through the loss of her husband and son. This experience fuelled her academic passion for positive psychology and in particular resiliency.

Learn more about Julie's personal journey and hear her insights around workplace mental health as it relates to resiliency, loss, and coping with change.

Attend the conference, receive hours

Did you know that the Mental Health Gap Conference is approved for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours? That means for attending, you will receive 6.75 hours towards your CPD requirement.

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Sponsors

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