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A Personal Invitation to the 12th Canadian Conference on Collaborative Mental Healthcare in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Posted By Ajantha Jayabarathan, Thursday, March 3, 2011
Updated: Friday, June 10, 2011

It is now recognised that one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. In actual fact, all Canadians are affected, because mental illness has or will touch each of our lives through a family member, friend, co-worker or employee. "Unlike any other part of the healthcare system, family caregivers play a pivotal role as a service provider. Similarly people with lived experience must be at the centre of the mental health system as , in most cases, they are the best judge of what will, or will not,be effective in treating their illness. Therefore, to be effective, a collaborative mental health system must include family caregivers and people with lived experience at its core.” These are inspiring words from Senator Michael Kirby, who now heads the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

To help overcome challenges posed by the lack of access to quality mental health care in our communities, our upcoming Collaborative Mental Health Care Conference, aims to build bridges between mental health consumers, their families and health care providers. This summer, interactive presentations, innovative workshops and exciting new networking opportunities will highlight the richness of working collaboratively in the mental health care field, at the World Trade and Convention Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia during June 23rd, 24th and 25th.This is the 12th Canadian Conference on Collaborative Mental Healthcare, but is unique in its approach to meaningfully engage mental health consumers and their families in the future development of collaborative care. Our goal is to have twenty percent representation by mental health consumers as presenters and participants.

Our keynote address by the Meriden group from the UK speaks to a new era in engaging families as "carers”. New Position papers from the Canadian Psychiatric Association and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, on Stigma and the Future of Collaborative Mental Health care in Canada will be launched at the conference. The Mental Health Commission of Canada and research groups interested in treatment of mental illness in primary care will be participating and conducting key workshops. The emerging role of Health Informatics in evaluative and treatment strategies in mental healthcare delivery, integration of addiction prevention and treatment services, early psychosis intervention, new areas in child and adolescent mental health along with the powerful use of creative arts to present the mind and its development are some of our offerings. Our scientific submissions to the conference will showcase an international and local array of innovative projects.

We have developed interesting venues during which you can network with presenters as well as the "other experts” attending the conference, namely participants like you! Nova Scotia is well known for its informal warmth , friendliness and beauty. The spiritual nature of the setting of the conference in downtown Halifax, nestled between the Historic Town Clock perched on Citadel Hill and the shimmering, blue waters of the Atlantic harbour holds the promise of feeling rejuvenated and connected to your surroundings. Many who attend conferences here come prepared to stay and travel across its stormy seashores, emerald green highlands, seaside villages and mysterious fossil cliffs with friends and family. Our website, will continue to hold updated information on the conference details. Soon we will be also be sending out e-mercials that further showcase key topics in our conference with links to that can further assist with your travel plans.

Finally in the words immortalised by the song, "Colors of the Wind” in Walt Disney’s Pochahantas,

"You think the only people who are people ,Are the people who look and think like you,But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,You’ll learn things, you never knew , you never knew.”

Come walk with those who will be strangers to you but once, learn about what you do from different perspectives, immerse yourself in a place that has withstood the test of much adversity and engage in what is the most viable future of mental healthcare: collaborative practice that involves an assortment of providers, consumers and their families in a partnership built on equality and mutual respect.

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