Department of Psychiatry

Mindfest Presentation & Workshop Descriptions

Andrew Goldstein – “Mental Health First Aid: An Overview”

12:30pm-1:30pm @ Committees Room

Mental Health First Aid refers to a program adopted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help a person provide the initial support in the event that a colleague or friend experiences a mental health disorder or crisis. The program has been developed over two days and involves a discussion around mental health, stigma, and a series of mental health intervention steps. Course topics include substance use disorder, anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, and psychosis.

Course materials have been developed through evidence based evaluation completed by both the Mental Health Commission of Canada as well as by Professor Anthony Jorm, founder and developer of the Mental Health First Aid series. Course evaluations have demonstrated statistically significant improvements in the ability of participants to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental health disorder, decrease stigma, and increase confidence in providing initial help.


Bruce Ballon – “Never Bet the Devil Your Head:  Gambling, Mental Health and Magic”

11:30am-12:30pm @ Music Room

This experiential and interactive workshop will explore the essence of gambling and its relationship and impact on mental health.  Discover the connections of ancient divination from the dawn of humanity, anthropomorphized Lady lack, pseudoscience betting systems and hidden gambling in cyberspace.  But beware:  never bet the devil your head…. because then you will lose it.


Chakameh Shafil – “Gaming & Mental Health Hackathon”

10:30am-11:30am @ Committee’s Room

During this workshop you will be introduced to the different types of games and their impact on out mental health. The interactive part of the workshop will be focused on designing a game that can encourage better mental health in teams. You won’t need a computer for the design portion as we will use boards to draw out the preliminary designs of the different parts of the game. The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges and awarded $300 credits on TranQool.


Kierston Drier – “The Bathroom Stall Project—Small Actions That Make Big Changes”

1:30pm-2:30pm @ Committees Room

My talk will share the story of the creation of the bathroom stall project, as well as a group thought experiment on how labels frame the way we perceive ourselves and each other. It will build on these principles to address the issue of labels and how simple, small and often anonymous actions can have profound effects on the world around us, those we care for, and ourselves.


Mandana Vahabi – “Temporary Foreign Workers Mental Health in Canada”

9:30am-10:30am @ Music Room

Canada has been shifting towards a reliance on migrant labour. Temporary migrant workers (TMW) are primarily hired to fill short term labor gap in Canada. Evidence indicates rapid health decline among TMWs and limited accessibility to health and social care. Discrimination, social exclusion, and isolation from family, friends and lack or limited support networks may lead to stress, anxiety, and depression in this population. This mixed-methods community- based study aimed to explore mental health of TMWs and its related predictors. The results show that TMW are at risk of compromised mental health related to the substandard working and living conditions. These substandard conditions are related to violation of employment contracts, domination and exploitation by employers, and the lack of enforcement of legal and human rights responsibilities among employers. Although the survival skills of TMW seemed to function as protective factors against mental illness, it is not sufficient to address the myriad challenges they are faced with.


Rhonda Feldman – “Recognizing and Supporting Caregivers at Risk”

3:30pm-4:30pm @ Music Room

Family members providing care for someone with dementia have become an essential part of our health care system.  But caregivers can be at risk for both psychological and physical problems associated with providing care. In this talk I will discuss the elements that increase the risk of caregiver burden and isolation.  I will also introduce the services offered at the Reitman Centre to support caregivers.


Suzanne L Stewart – “Mental health of Canada and Indigenous reconciliation: What is it and what does it mean?”

2:30pm-3:30pm @ Debates Room

The objective of this workshop is to identify what reconciliation is for non-Native Canadians in relation to Indigenous peoples.  Through the synthesis Dr. Stewart’s of program evaluation and exploratory research regarding Indigenous mental health with youth and the homeless, this workshop will illuminate ways in which Indigenous health and mental health are factors in the overall well being of all Canadians. For example, Indigenous women in general are highly over-represented among the homeless population, and a significant proportion of Aboriginal single mothers end up in safe-house shelters or couch-surfing and do not have the same access to homelessness services as single individuals sleeping outdoors or in homeless shelters (Native Women’s Association of Canada, 2007). What does this statistic mean for the well being of non-Native Canadians, what are the implications for educators, mental health workers, doctors, physiotherapists, bankers…and others? Two-spirited and transgendered Indigenous youth are another population with unmet needs when faced with homelessness and mental health issues (see Denommee-Welch, Pyne, & Scanlon, 2008)—what are the life-career programs and services available, and how can these, from institutional and policy perspectives that are grounded in Aboriginal knowledges, be improved? Working closely with the workshop attendees, Dr. Stewart will seek to respond to these questions and create a dialogue on the issues.