Sessions



National Conference on Peer Support 2018
Concurrent Sessions

To view and download the Conference Program: Click here

The Mental Health Commission of Canada, and The BC Centre for Excellence in Women Health, have identified peer support as essential for recovery. This poster presentation will describe the evaluation of peer support groups in the context of a hospital based women’s mental health service. Findings indicate that women reported high levels of satisfaction, and significantly higher mean scores for recovery following participation in peer support groups.

PRESENTERS: Anita Manley and Victoria Higgins

Anita Manley is a trained peer facilitator, and passionate mental health advocate. She was instrumental in developing peer support in Women’s Mental Health at The Royal. Anita shares her story of recovery with many audiences. She is an active member of advisory groups at the local and provincial levels. Anita is the recipient of The Royal’s 2015 Inspiration Award.

Victoria Higgins, is the Vice-Chair of the Client Advisory Council and editor of the council’s newsletter The Client’s Voice at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care Centre. After benefiting from programs at the Resource Centre for Women, she trained as a facilitator and helps run several program there. She shares her story of hope with her group members, family groups, staff and the public.

The benefits of having animals in our lives is well known. Mary Jane’s dream was to combine Peer Support with Pet Therapy. Along the way she learned about how to bring a dream to fruition, the importance of supportive partners, the power of persistence and the art of good timing. If you are interested in incorporating Pet Therapy in your Peer Support or Peer Navigator work, this is the workshop for you. You will also have a chance to meet a PADS service dog.

PRESENTER: Mary-Jane Moore

Mary-Jane Moore was trained as a Peer Support Worker with Vancouver Coastal Health in 2010, and has worked in the field for the past 7 years. She has worked for Adult Mental Health Services, Magnolia House, the Transition Program at the Hope Centre and is presently happily working as a Peer Navigator at the Kelty Dennehy Mental Health Resource Centre, part of the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is a facilitator of the WRAP program (Wellness Recovery Action Program) and is presently teaching at CMHA and in the Transition Department at the Hope Centre.

This creative session is designed to relax participants through meditation, and to allow them to step out of their creative way to write honestly from their inner voice. Learn how facilitating this workshop motivates clients to build into their lives the benefits of meditation, journaling and mindfulness.

PRESENTER: Lisa Colbert

Lisa Colbert is a grateful, recovering addict who today is a public speaker and workshop facilitator. She inspires perspective change through mindfulness and conscious living. She has been a repeat guest on local radio show 900CHML and has spoken in the Hamilton area as a mindfulness expert at the 2017 Wellness Index, the Best Buddies Conference and the Crazy Good Wellness Series.

Come experience Creating Choices, a program based on Choice Theory/Reality Therapy concepts, and Laughter Yoga for body, mind and soul. This includes knowing and getting your basic needs met, seeing and reframing your pictures, recognizing and responding to your signals and choosing and acting on your behaviours. You will leave this workshop feeling inspired, empowered and balanced.

PRESENTERS: Debbie Sesula and Andrea Winterbottom

Debbie Sesula, MA, RTC, CPS, CPSM, works as a coordinator for the North Shore Peer Support Program in North Vancouver, BC. Her involvement in peer support has been 20+ years as a peer support worker, researcher, program and curriculum developer, and she travels to communities to assist them in implementing peer support. Debbie is a recipient of the Consumer Involvement, Courage to Come Back, and Resiliency Awards and is a member of Peer Support Canada’s Certification Commiteee.

Andrea Winterbottom, RYT 200, is a peer support worker and registered yoga teacher, certified Laughter Yoga Leader, Life Coach, and Brain Fitness Instructor. Andrea combines her expertise in these modalities to actively engage with participants. She believes in being kind and compassionate to fellow human beings.

PRESENTER: Dr. Corey Keyes

Dr. Corey Keyes will summarize the conception and diagnosis of positive mental health (from languishing to flourishing), findings supporting the two continua model of mental health and illness and the five implications that flow from support for the two continua model. He will discuss the benefits of flourishing to society and individuals that are possible if public health shifts to include mental health promotion and protection and psychiatric services conceived of the possibility of flourishing in long term recovery. Studies will be reviewed that flourishing is possible in recovery from addiction and mental illness. Dr. Keyes will also explore the powerful role that peer support leadership has in transforming the mental health system to incorporate a model that supports recovery and flourishing throughout the lifespan.

Caregivers are often overlooked when it comes to support services which is surprising as 28% of the Canadian population identifies as supporting a loved one. The prevalence of caregivers within Canada shows the need for support services targeted at family members involved in a loved one’s care. CMHA Calgary has successfully implemented a Family Peer Support program that strives to build resiliency in those supporting a loved one with a mental health or addiction concern. Come learn about the codevelopment and co-delivery process that we used in making this program successful.

PRESENTERS: Meghan Reid, Myra Murias and Diane Matovich

Meghan Reid is a Registered Social Worker who has lived experience with a mental health concern, as well as experience learning to navigate the tricky waters of family interactions. Her passion lies in working with those who have lived experience in order to build capacity in those who are living with a mental health and/or addiction concern.

Myra Murias is a health educator, has completed the CMHA School of Peer Support and is currently completing a diploma in nutrition with a focus upon mental health issues. She supported a family member with mental health concerns and is now helping support other families through the family peer support program at CMHA.

Diane Matovich completed the CMHA School of Peer Support and graduated as a Family Peer Support Worker in 2016. She continues to engage with caregivers and support families through ongoing drop-in groups, workshops and in one-on-one settings. Her lived experience has proved to be a huge asset when in engaging with families and caregivers.

How do we blend cultures based around family and community, not individuals, and peer support and certification? Guam, CNMI, FSM, MI, Palau and American Samoa are working on this. Come hear how they are looking at ways to integrate their cultures and peer support.

PRESENTER: Robyn Priest

Robyn Priest is the Lead Project Coordinator with Peerlink National TA Center. She is involved in peer support in 10 countries. She was part of the team that completed the MHCC Making the Case for Peer Support report and works/consults in a variety of provinces within Canada related to peer support.

In this presentation we will explore the unique features, principles and philosophies of peer confidentiality and co-confidentiality and the distinctive and inherent experiences involved. The subtle and overt differences between peer and clinical confidentiality and reporting requirements will be explored. And finally, how do we respond to these differences?

PRESENTERS: Tyrone Gamble and Kristina Niro

Tyrone Gamble works as a peer support worker in Ottawa. He provides peer support in various environments, including several hospitals. He also co-coordinates a community based volunteer peer support program. He has lived experience with parallel realities, including voices. He facilitates groups on parallel realities and hearing voices; groups that he has been actively and passionately involved in developing.

Kristina Niro works as a program coordinator for Recovery Connections at Psychiatric Survivors of Ottawa. She provides peer support in hospital settings and facilitates community groups surrounding the experiences of young adulthood, substance use, hearing voices, and parallel realities. As someone with lived experience, Kristina is passionate about creating nonjudgmental spaces where people feel safe and valued in sharing their experience.

BeanBag Chat is a peer support and counselling app designed by and for young adults in Toronto, Canada. The process of co-designing a mental health support app with young adults, professionals, technology developers and the community will be shared.

PRESENTER: Alicia Raimundo

Alicia Raimundo has been described as a “mental health superhero”, battling serious bouts of anxiety, depression and a suicide attempt since the age of 13.She has, given two TEDxTalks, was named one of 2012 “faces of mental illness”, spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative, headlined UN’s international youth day 2014 at the UN headquarters in New York, and represented Canada in Thailand and Ottawa at One Young World conferences.

Addiction and Mental Health, AHS, Edmonton Zone has hired twelve new peer support workers onto various clinical teams over the past year. This has increased the PSW workforce from three to fifteen in a very short time. These PSW’s work on various teams across the portfolio, with various areas of specialization, different team composition and dynamics and different managers. The integration of Peer Support onto these teams has proven to be both challenging and extremely rewarding. A panel discussion with all key players represented will share their experiences.

PRESENTERS: Michelle Knox and Jim Koning

Jim Koning has worked in the addiction and mental health field for the past 28 years; the last 7 as a Care Manager with the Housing Outreach and Stabilization Team with Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Health Services, Edmonton Zone. Jim has seen first-hand the impact Peer Support Worker’s have had through the lived experience lens in shaping his teams understanding of, and support and services provided to the individuals they serve.  Most importantly Jim has seen the hope and belief PSW’s instill in individuals, that recovery and living a meaningful life is possible.

Michelle Knox, is the Program Manager with Housing and Recovery Supports in Addiction and Mental Health Edmonton Zone with Alberta Health Services. She has spent the majority of the last ten years of her career working in both front-line and management positions within the area of Recovery Supports.  One of her primary passions has been the integration of peer services into the mental health system and she has been incrementally working towards this goal since the mid 2000’s.  She is thrilled to see the exponential growth in this area over the last year.  Michelle has a BA in Recreation Administration from the University of Alberta.

The workshop discusses the toolkit created to enhance the competencies of non-peer supervisors. The essential role that reflexive practice plays in maintaining effective peer worker practice will also be reviewed.

PRESENTERS: Julia Read and Keely Phillips

Julia Read is a PhD candidate in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research interests, inspired from both her lived experience and her work as an Addiction Therapist, include exploring contemporary social constructions of addiction and mental distress as well as decolonizing approaches towards understanding addiction. Julia believes people who have experienced being diagnosed or criminalized as “addicts” share unique experiences of marginalization.

Keely Phillips is the Manager of Self Help Services at CMHA Waterloo Wellington. Keely works to expand the presence of peer support throughout the local system and undertakes research related to strengthening the practices and integrity of peer support. In her work, Keely draws from her lived experience of mental health issues in addition to experiences as a researcher and peer worker.

Peer supporters face unique social and financial barriers to self-care, and added stigmas when exhibiting burn-out. At Stella’s Place, we’ve implemented supports for self-care that are embedded in organizational practice and culture for all staff. In this session Franklynn and Jeanine will share their learnings and, through audience participation, examine peer self-care as a collaborative process.

PRESENTERS: Jeanine Claus and Franklynn Bartol

Jeanine Claus, B.S.W. Jeanine (she/her), turtle clan, is a Peer Support Worker at Stella’s Place. She is a proud queer femme from the Kanien’kehá:ka and Lenape nations. She has strong interests in mental health and social justice advocacy, spiritual wellness, harm reduction, therapeutic art practices and sex worker rights.

Franklynn Bartol, MSc. Franky (they/them) is the Peer Initiatives Manager at Stella’s Place–a community mental health organization in downtown Toronto serving young adults aged 16-29. They are passionate about LGBTQ+ and consumer-survivor politics and have a background in developmental neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalytic theory, and program evaluation.

With lived experience in all the following areas, Imtiaz, Lee and Priscilla explore how everyone plays a role in supporting those with multiple barriers when dealing with race, gender and sexuality through a mental health lens. Participants will engage in interactive activities and walk away with a healthy understanding of the power of language and how to be apart of a new future in mental health.

PRESENTERS: Imtiaz Popat, Lee Thomas and Priscilla Cherry

Imtiaz Popat is a professional Counselor who has been working around peer support for LGBTQI from radicalized communities. They coordinate the Salaam Canada: Queer Muslim Community in Vancouver.

Lee Thomas is a speaker, writer, and mental health advocate based in Fredericton NB. They are professionally mental ill, and queer just for fun.

Canadian freelance journalist and public speaker Priscilla Cherry, has used her education in Journalism to attract the attention of ET Canada, LIVE with Kelly and Breakfast Television producers. After growing through a personal journey of mental health, she’s now a Peer Support Specialist at CMHA Calgary. Priscilla believes in the healing power of sharing her life experiences for a meaningful purpose and empowers anyone that identifies, to do the same.

Whether an emergency service first responder or military veteran requires Peer support during their service or in ‘retirement” – they and their service should not be forgotten.

PRESENTERS: Dr. Megan McElheran and Jason Curry, Jim and Debbie Lowther and Mrs. Vicki Key

Dr. Megan McElheran is a Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director of WGM Psychological Services Ltd. Her training has focused on the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. In her clinical practice she works with active duty members of the Canadian Forces, RCMP, Veterans, Firefighters, Emergency Medical personnel and other first responders who have been directly or vicariously impacted by exposure to traumatic events.

Jim Lowther is the CEO and Co-Founder and a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who was medically released after a 15-year career and a diagnosis of PTSD/ other service-related disabilities. As a result of a chance encounter with a homeless veteran with whom he had served, Jim and his wife Debbie formed VETS Canada in 2010.

Debbie Lowther VETS Canada’s Co-Founder and Chair, has represented the organization at numerous national venues, including Veterans Affairs Canada Stakeholder Summits, the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Debbie received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 and the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation in 2016.

A 23 year veteran of Victoria Police Force in Australia, Vicki Key was instrumental in creating the Retired Police Peer Support Program. Her last position was the Acting Officer in Charge of a busy 24 hour metropolitan police station. Retired early because of a serious work related physical injury she then began the Retired Police Peer Support Officer program. Vicki presents to various groups.

Join our Alberta peer support movement. Learn directly from the change agents, two Certified Peer Supporters, as they share their journey of collaborative leadership. Acquire an understanding of how mentorship bridges clinical and community based services. Discover their mentorship practices and take strategies back to your workplace to build trust and hope in peer support.

PRESENTERS: Debbie Wiebe and Pamela Spurvey

Debbie Wiebe has worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association – (CMHA) Calgary Region for over 20 years. She is a provincial project Mentor overseeing peer support implementation, training and internships as the head of the CMHA Peer School’s faculty of education. She volunteers with Peer Support Canada as a Peer Mentor and Certification Committee Member.

Pamela Spurvey is a Certified Peer Support Worker for Alberta Health Services, a Mentor with the Edmonton Drug Treatment Court and holds a position with the Salvation Army that supports women achieve greater wellness from mental health and addiction. Pam sits on committees for Homeward Trust as a voice for people experiencing homelessness. She is a certified Financial Literacy Instructor with Empower U.

A sharing of narratives and lessons learned from three innovative urban peer-led harm reduction initiatives. Each group will present a brief history and overview of their program and its location within the sphere of local and national harm reduction initiatives and the overdose crisis, as well as perspectives, outcomes and lessons learned. The panel will touch on commonalities and distinctions in recruitment, experiences of integrating people with living experience of drug use into institutional working environments, the dangers of assimilation and value of genuine commitment to peer self-determination, challenges and advantages of unique political and geographical settings, shared successes, and challenges moving forward.

PRESENTERS: Anne Marie Hopkins, Eris Nyx and Isaac Malmgren, Gab Laurence

Anne Marie Hopkins has 9 years experience working with homeless/street communities, including at Ottawa Inner City Health (OICH), which provides their health care. As OICH’s Supervisor of Peer Outreach Services, she launched an Overdose Response and Prevention Peer Support Program during the 2017 opioid crisis. A graduate of Sheridan College’s Community Outreach Development program, she is completing BSW studies at Carleton University.

Eris Nyx is the Assistant Manager of RainCity Housing’s Peer Services. She is a queer, trans woman, who uses her own personal narrative of struggle to facilitate dialogue between folks who use drugs and the larger institutions that exist on unceded Coast Salish territories.

As RainCity Housing’s Manager of Peer Services, Isaac Malmgren draws on personal experiences of substance use and loss from overdose in his work on unceded Coast Salish territories with the Peer Witnessed Use Pilot. He’s honoured to hold up this work in a world where the contributions of People who Use Drugs are so often discounted and ignored.

Gab Laurence has worked for St. Stephen’s Community House since 2012. Her background is in complex substance use case management. Recently she has changed her focus and moved into managing peer and employment programs for individuals living with substance use and mental health.

A leaders guide to change: reforming and transforming services through the growth of Peer Support and Recovery Oriented Practices.

PRESENTER: Laureen MacNeil

Laureen MacNeil is the Executive Director at the Canadian Mental Health Association Calgary Region (CMHA Calgary).  Prior to joining CMHA Calgary in 2013, she worked with Alberta Health Services and the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Laureen is a professional engineer and holds a Masters in Health Services Administration from Dalhousie University and an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.

This presentation will highlight three key lessons learned from a collaborative project developing a new toolkit to help grow and strengthen peer support service delivery for people living with HIV and/or Hep C: creating a process for meaningful collaboration and still meeting the deadline; adapting mental health material to new settings; and involving the people who matter.

PRESENTER: Alison Kyte

Alison Kyte is the manager of Wellness Programs and Special Projects at the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna. She has a MA in Leadership from Royal Roads University. She has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years and joined CMHA Kelowna in 2008.

How does a quality improvement project incorporate the principles and values of peer support? This presentation will describe how that can be achieved and will provide suggestions that participants can make use of in their organizations and communities.

PRESENTERS: Allan Strong and Robin Spence-Haffner

Allan Strong, is the Clinical Lead for Peer Support with Choices for Change. He has been active in the peer support community as a spokesperson, advocate, and researcher.

Robin Spence-Haffner, is the Quality Improvement Lead with Choices for Change. Robin is passionate about engaging users of service in a meaningful and productive way in the quality improvement process.

Punjabi Community Health Services’s Peer Support Program forms a holistic program support to the client. The Peer Support Workers (PSW) help with navigation, support and linkages to other services. PSW form an integral part of professional staff and work in close cooperation with the clinical staff. This has resulted in reduced emergency visits to the hospitals and increased well-being of clients.

PRESENTERS: Baldev Mutta and Aman Virk

Baldev Mutta is the CEO of Punjabi Community Health Services. He has developed the Integrated Holistic Service Delivery model to serve the South Asian community in mental health, addictions, services for seniors, and settlement needs.

Aman Virk is the Peer Support Program Coordinator. She operationalized the Peer Support Program with Punjabi Community Health Services and is instrumental in making it a successful program.

Resilience plans are an important part of any Self-Care Toolbox. Do you have an up-to-date resiliency plan? Learn more about a Canadian-based recovery booklet designed by peers for peers.

PRESENTER: Beth Henry

Beth Henry was certified as a Peer Specialist in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon returning home to Calgary she founded Prairies To Peaks Consulting Inc, with a passion and vision to provide tools to peer workers as they move forward in in their own recovery and provide good peer support to others.

This session will explore the collaboration between a non-profit mental health organization and a health authority in the creation of curriculum, training and job placement for young adults with lived experience of mental health challenges. Placements for these young adult Peer Support Workers are largely in youth-specific clinical settings.

PRESENTERS: Leigh-Ann Horwitz Mackintosh and Fraser Mackenzie

Fraser Mackenzie is Coast Mental Health’s Peer Support Program Coordinator. He has been involved in the training and development of Peer Support programming for four years. He has a particular interest in young adult Peer Support and has been active in modifying and contemporizing curriculum with the aid of the youth with whom he works.

Leigh-Ann Horwitz Mackintosh is Fraser Health’s Youth Peer Support Coordinator. She’s been a driving force in implementing the first peer support program in the youth and young adult mental health and substance use programs throughout Fraser Health. Previously, she worked as a peer supporter promoting early intervention and attempting to end the stigma attached to mental health challenges by sharing her story.

Peer Support Canada offers Peer Support Certification and Family Peer Support Certification, grounded in the Peer Support Standards of Practice. Come learn about what is involved in achieving Peer Support Certification, including the assessment of core competencies, assessment of acquired experience, the knowledge assessment, and the guided practicum.

PRESENTERS: Lauren Dickler and Debbie Sesula

As the Certification Coordinator for Peer Support Canada, Lauren Dickler works with each person who is completing their Peer Support Certification. She has been an advocate in the mental health community since being diagnosed with depression and panic attacks in 2006, providing peer support, raising funds for mental-health related charities, and working to increase education and reduce stigma associated with mental illness. Lauren teaches at York University and Humber College in Toronto, and is completing her PhD on mental health/illness in athletes.

Debbie Sesula, MA, RTC, CPS, CPSM, works as coordinator for the North Shore Peer Support Program in North Vancouver, BC. Her involvement in peer support has been 20+ years as a peer support worker, researcher, program and curriculum developer, and she travels to communities to assist them in implementing peer support. Debbie is a recipient of the Consumer Involvement, Courage to Come Back, and Resiliency Awards and is a member of Peer Support Canada’s Certification Commitee.

How peer support speaks to and engages Indigenous Cultures is an important question that needs to be investigated. Cultural differences around the meaning and practices of wellness and support can arise. In this presentation two Métis men will discuss their experiences providing peer support; they will open a dialogue regarding developing an Indigenous framework and guidelines for peer support.

PRESENTERS: Tyrone Gamble and Guy St-Jean

Tyrone Gamble is of mixed heritage. He strongly identifies with Irish and Métis heritage. His family includes various Indigenous heritages. He has also experienced diverse cultures, mindsets and environments in his lifetime. Tyrone grew up in Canada’s arctic and spent time amongst Inuit culture. He has lived experience with parallel realities, including voices. He experiences himself as a man between worlds.

Guy St. Jean, Métis with Algonquin origins, is from eastern Ontario. Working on his ancestry to confirm his Algonquin side, he connected to the land as First Nations. Also connected with the spiritual side of the earth, feels grounded and able to connect with Indigenous culture, he’s in his element! Experienced mental health/addiction challenges which able him to relate and connect with similar experiences.

Stories are equipment for living and fill both our waking and sleeping hours. It has long been the tradition of human beings to pass along wisdom through storytelling. One of the major “recovery tools” that peer support providers bring to mental health services is sharing their own recovery story. Peers can be inspired by hearing the truth, hope, and possibilities implicit in the recovery stories of others. It is now relatively easy to create and share stories digitally and there is great potential to employ digital tools in therapeutic and pedagogic ways. This presentation will outline a process of creating and sharing short, three minute digital stories in a mental health peer support setting.

PRESENTERS: Joy Pavelich and Mike Lang

Joy Pavelich is the Community Engagement team leader at Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region. A lifelong communicator, working across a spectrum from government, to corporate to non-profit, Joy also holds a Master of Arts degree in professional Communications. Her research was in trauma and narratives and the importance of sharing stories to move past the damaging impact of trauma. When she lost her 20 year old son Eric Schmit to suicide in August, 2013, Joy transferred her skills into supporting mental health awareness, advocacy and action.

Mike Lang is a health narrative specialist, researcher, film-maker, and PhD student at the University of Calgary. He has directed and produced three feature length documentaries and two web series, all focused on different aspects of health and wellness, in addition to publishing research and facilitating the creation of over 350 Digital Stories with a diverse cross-section of patients and families in the past 5 years. Mike’s professional and research focus is on using Digital Storytelling in a research, quality improvement, advocacy, and therapeutic capacity. He uses his storytelling skills to help others share their story and stimulate important conversations about what it means to live well with, through and beyond any illness or injury. To view some of his recent projects visit www.mikelangstories.com or connect with him on Twitter, FaceBook or Instagram @mikelangstories.

Join the National Council of Persons with Lived Experience (NCPLE) in a conversation about why interaction with those who have overcome mental health issues is particularly effective at overcoming one’s own issues.

PRESENTERS: Alicia Raimundo, Ken Reddig, William (Bill) Pringle and Theresa Claxton

Alicia Raimundo, Member, NCPLE, has been described as a “mental health superhero”, battling serious bouts of anxiety, depression and a suicide attempt since the age of 13. She has, given two TEDxTalks, was named one of 2012 “faces of mental illness”, spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative, headlined UN’s international youth day 2014 at the UN headquarters in New York, and represented Canada in Thailand and Ottawa at One Young World conferences. When she is not speaking, she writes, researches, advises, and creates awesome and innovative programming with awesome young people (Be Change, Bean Bag Chat as some examples).

Ken Reddig tried to heal himself from the sexual abuse he experienced at a young age. It was only when he was 60 years of age, and had survived numerous suicide attempts, that he landed in a mental hospital. After two stays, he finally began to repair his life and work on a program of Recovery. Now at retirement age, Ken is involved on numerous committees related to mental illness. He continues to tell his story over and over to help others who have had similar experiences.

William (Bill) Pringle has served on the CMHA board of directors for the Saskatoon Branch for 15 years and is a past president. Bill is currently serving as a patient adviser to two provincial government committees. In another life Bill was manager of public relations for the city of Calgary.

Theresa Claxton-Wali is the past chair and sits as ex-officio to the National Council of Persons with Lived Experience (NCPLE), an advisory body to the National Board of the Canadian Mental Health Association. Theresa is an active community volunteer with extensive experience as a board member with past and current positions with Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, Journal of Ethics & Mental Health, Sound Times Peer Support Services and Community Resource Connections of Toronto and Ontario Peer Development Initiative. Theresa brings 25 + years as an advocate for persons with lived experience and their families of mental health, addiction and developmental disabilities. She is an active member of the Ontario Association of Patient Councils and is a Patient & Family Advisor at her local community hospital. Theresa is also a certified peer supporter, advance level WRAP facilitator and recovery educator.

ACCESS Open Minds is a pan-Canadian network that is transforming youth mental health services. This workshop explores strategies to help grow stakeholder engagement within existing structures, sharing our experience with the implementation of three national stakeholder councils for youth, family/carers and Indigenous peoples. The various peer initiatives that are taking place within the ACCESS Open Minds Network will be highlighted.

PRESENTER: Chantelle Mireault

As Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator at ACCESS Open Minds central office in Montreal, Chantelle Mireault collaborates with the National Youth Council, the Family and Carers Council, and the Indigenous Council. Chantelle strives to empower community members with lived experience to contribute their unique expertise to ACCESS Open Minds, a Pan-Canadian youth mental health research project.

This innovative initiative launched intentional peer support into over 11 mainstream mental health and addictions agencies. This session will highlight how the implementation came to be; the intentional building of integral relationships within the system; trainings for peers, supervisors and teams; the formation of communities of practices for supervisors and peer workers; the creation of a validated tool for peer support; and its innovative work on supporting ongoing quality improvement in all aspects of integrating peer support philosophy into our health care system.

PRESENTERS: Betty Lou Kristy and Christina Jabalee

Betty-Lou Kristy, is the Peer Support Substance Use (Provincial) Systems Lead for, Our Beautiful Minds: Centre for Innovation in Peer Support.  She is a bereaved mother, in recovery for 18 years from alcohol/multi-drug addictions, trauma and mental health issues. Betty-Lou lost Pete, her 25-year-old son with concurrent disorders to an accidental opioid overdose in 2001.  Betty-Lou has spent the last decade as a provincial system-level, lived experience/family – advisor, educator, and advocate – helping to frame policy, governance, and programming. She also provides peer support and outreach at the community level. Previous to this journey her background was in corporate marketing. She received the 2009 Transforming Lives Award from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and the 2012/13 ACE (Achievement, Commitment and Excellence) Award –Partner Relations category – from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, for her work with Expert Advisory Narcotics.

Christina Jabalee, Peer Support Systems Lead for Our Beautiful Minds: Centre for Innovation in Peer Support in the Mississauga Halton Region. Christina brings her personal experience in the field of mental health/addictions/substance use through her family experience as a caregiver and navigating her own wellness. She completed her Bachelor of Social work degree and began presenting on her personal/family story to MPP’s, the All Party Select committee on mental health and addictions and in numerous newspaper articles. She has worked in the Mississauga Halton region for over 8 years facilitating family support groups, peer support groups, trainings, regional planning tables/committees and has presented 100’s of times to high school students and police officers, where she highlights the need for a human approach to health care, where we recognize we are all in this together.

Over 20 years of experiences, stories and evidence is shared in a panel and interactive presentation style from Ontario Shores and CMHA Calgary. Together they explore why by setting peer support and recovery as core principles of their services and programs has completely changed everything – empowering each person that accesses their programs to leave with an evidenced sense of hope, belonging and connection.

PRESENTERS: Allison Stevens, Katie Enright and Stella Ducklow, Callum Ross and Debbie Wiebe, Greg Miller and Nigel Mayers, Lisa Androulidakis, MaryLou Freitag

Allison Stevens has worked within the Forensic program at Ontario Shores Centre For Mental Health Sciences as a Nurse since 2005. In her time throughout the hospital she has become a Recovery Advocate as well as a co-lead investigator in research examining the development and impact of patient-led group facilitation and education. Allison has a passion for leveraging the expertise associated with lived experience and peer support and recovery-related knowledge translation designed to enhance Recovery-Oriented practice. Allison lead the Implementation of the Recovery College at Ontario Shores and oversees the Recovery initiatives within the corporate Recovery action plan.

Katie Enright has worked at Ontario Shores, starting as a nurse since 2006. Her interest in mental health came from her lived experience with bipolar disorder and PTSD, wanting to help others along their recovery journey. As she continued to live with her mental illness, particularly after experiencing post-partum psychosis, she began to come forward about her struggles and rising above them, eventually being featured on Ontario Shores’ social media podcast “mindvine”. The positive response was overwhelming, and colleagues expressed so much gratitude to have a mental health professional “come out”, as many suffering admitted they felt extremely stigmatized even working in the profession. Katie decided at this time the role of peer support specialist was where her heart was, and has been working in the Recovery College at Ontario Shores since its inception.

Stella Ducklow has worked as a Peer Support Specialist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences since 2014. Hailing from Halifax NS Stella’s passion for equitable mental health care when she started doing first voice speaking in 2009, and blossomed further during her time as Artist In Residence for the Sunlife Chair of Adolescent Mental Health from 2011-2014. A firm believer in consumer led movements, Stella has been a key player in Ontario Shore’s Recovery College since its inception, and was recently a co-organizer of the first co-designed Eating Disorder Conference in Ontario.

Working with the Canadian Mental Health Association Calgary as Policy and Advocacy Lead and as Co-Chair of the Calgary Council for Addiction and Mental Health, Callum Ross leads mental health and addiction initiatives and innovations. His role is to support collaboration within the sector that meets the emerging challenges related to needs of Calgarians living with mental health and addiction challenges.

Debbie Wiebe has worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association – (CMHA) Calgary Region for over 20 years. She is a provincial project Mentor overseeing peer support implementation, training and internships as the head of the CMHA Peer School’s faculty of education. She volunteers with Peer Support Canada as a Peer Mentor and Certification Committee Member.

Greg Miller ompeted the Art of Friendship and Circle of Friends and graduated from Peer School in 2017. Greg is now a facilitator with Art of Friendship and Circle of Friends with CMHA. Greg loves what he does and is getting satisfaction everyday from helping people.

Nigel Mayers has 20 years of lived experience. He completed Art of Friendship and Circle of Friends and graduated from Peer School in 2017. He is a facilitator for Art of Friendship and Circle of Friends. Having worked in peer support for over a decade, Lisa Androulidakis leads innovative projects within the Canadian Mental Health Association, supporting the growth and development of peer initiatives across the Province.

MaryLou Freitag is a Recovery Trainer within the CMHA Recovery College. She brings a background in adult education and counselling. On her own recovery journey, she feels privileged to support amazing people rediscover their value and potential.

Stella’s Place in Toronto and Foundry in BC have both developed peer support training curricula for young people with lived experience of mental health challenges. This interactive session will discuss how these different curricula were developed, how young people were involved in the design and delivery of the training, the role of curricula in standardizing the field of peer support, and outcomes of the training and learnings. The differences in approach adopted in the curricula, lessons learned from creating and delivering the training, and areas for further work will be shared.

PRESENTERS: Asante Haughton and Dr. Stephanie Rattelad, Carrie Smith and Andrea Vukobrat

Asante Haughton is the Peer Training and Development Lead at Stella’s Place. He believes in taking a collaborative approach to youth empowerment and social justice initiatives. When not trying to change the world, Asante spends his time being frustrated with Toronto sports teams and spending way too much time on Netflix.

Dr. Stephanie Rattelade is the Quality Experience and Evaluation Coordinator at Stella’s Place. She takes a collaborative approach to research, working with young adults and staff to measure the impact of peer support programs. She is also a chocolate connoisseur and spends her free time hiking and avoiding encounters with bears.

Carrie Smith is part of the clinical implementation team for Foundry; a provincial network of centres providing integrated wellness services for young people in British Columbia. Carrie has been involved in adult education initiatives in the health and social service sector for over 10 years and was fortunate to be involved in the development of the Foundry Youth Peer Support Curriculum over the past year. Carrie has a masters of social work degree and has worked as a social worker in the areas of mental health and neuropsychiatry in both the community and hospital settings.

Andrea Vukobrat was a youth peer support worker for 3 years at the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, supporting children, youth and families who were experiencing mental health challenges. As a young person with lived experience, the opportunity to see her experiences as giving her expertise and knowledge was transformative and a huge piece of her journey to wellness. Her work now as the youth peer engagement coordinator with Foundry Central Office allows her to combine her two passions of youth engagement and community development by creating opportunities for youth to see themselves as part of positive community development and growth.

The presentation will demonstrate a strength-based approach used to engage families in their growth, and how this helps to facilitate greater levels of family engagement and feelings of personal success. The facilitators will provide real life solutions used to promote growth outside traditional services and therapeutic supports, and foster community development.

PRESENTERS: Alison Wood, Michelle Whalen, Alexis Wenzowski and Jayne Staples

Alison Wood is a Family Support Provider with Caroline Families First. She has lived experience of raising children with mental health. She is the parent of three children (two of which with significant mental health), and is a therapeutic foster parent for the past twenty years.

Jayne Staples is a Care Coordinator with Caroline Families First. She has more than twenty years experience providing high level of service coordination and wraparound in children’s services. She is also the parent of a youth with mental health.

Alexis Wenzowski is the Team Lead with Caroline Families First program. She has worked within the Wraparound model of care for the past five years, and, previously, taught English on a northern Saskatchewan.

Michelle Whalen is the Manager of the Caroline Families First program. She has helped to develop and support the peer support model within children’s services of Halton Region. She has worked in the child and youth field for 10+ years.

Come learn about two very different organizations using social media platforms to engage and connect people. The Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative (MMHRC) is an innovative, peer-led, patient driven initiative housed at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, but its reach is international in scope through the harnessing the power of social media. Sponsor Finder helps you on your road to recovery by facilitating connections between sponsors and sponsees in the addiction recovery space.

PRESENTERS: Katie Robinette and Shannon Hennig

Katie Robinette is the founder of Sponsor Helper, a digital recovery tool.  She is the past Executive Director of Healthy Minds Canada, a national charity in the mental health and addictions space with a mission to empower Canadians to take charge of their mental health by helping them identify issues early and navigating them to resources to achieve healthy outcomes faster.  She has had a long career in the lobbying, government relations, and campaign management space.

Shannon Hennig is the Program Director of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative, a peer-led initiative dedicated to the active involvement of women with lived experience with maternal mental illness in research. After her own recovery from maternal mental illness she became acutely aware of the lack of patient engagement in maternal mental health research and has worked in both Canada and the US to build infrastructure to support “mom-powered research priorities”.

This session will explore how the role of education on the complexities of harm reduction among housing first/community agencies can expand a peer supporter’s capacity. By unwrapping the definition of harm reduction to other peers we can then explore the complexity of what harm reduction looks like in it truest form. This also serves to build resiliency in avoiding vicarious trauma, can build a better cultural awareness, and a different perspective of relating to others.

PRESENTERS: Shyann Weymouth and Pamela Spurvey

Shyann Weymouth is a Peer Support Woker with the DiverseCity Housing program which is a housing first & harm reduction Assertive Community Treatment model supporting individuals to live independently in market rent apartments.

Pamela Spurvey struggled many years with mental health and substance abuse issues and has now been on her wellness journey now for 10 years. She is a certified Peer Supporter through Peer Support Canda since 2016. Presently she works for Alberta Health Services as Peer Support Worker and is a mentor with the Edmonton Drug Treatment Team.

Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) Group for Family Peers in the Chinese Community This session shares the experiences of the Chinese family peers in the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Group at Hong Fook Mental Health Association, an agency that provides community mental health services to Asian communities in Greater Toronto Area. It highlights how WRAP model is adapted culturally to enhance the self-care of our Chinese family peers.

PRESENTER: Erica Wan

Erica Wan is with the The Chinese Family Support Group of Hong Fook Mental Health Association, which has established for more than 10 years. It promotes mutual learning, sharing and support in a group setting. From the spectrum of receiving help, self-help to mutual support, Hong Fook Chinese family peers grow together in their recovery journey

Certified Peer Support Mentors guide, coach, and assess Peer Support Certification candidates through the Practicum phase. This session will drill into the peer support competencies, and how Mentors coach candidates to reflect upon, and deepen their practice as a Peer Supporter. The process for becoming a mentor will also be discussed.

PRESENTERS: Kim Dixon, Debbie Wiebe and Tracey Mitchell

Kim Dixon has over 80 years of experience with mental illness.  She has worked for the BC Schizophrenia Society for 20 years and completed a graduate degree specializing in peer interventions for families affected by mental illness.  Kim has been on a lifetime journey with numerous family members living in recovery from mental illness.

Franklynn Bartol has worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association – (CMHA) Calgary Region for over 20 years. She is a provincial project Mentor overseeing peer support implementation, training and internships as the head of the CMHA Peer School’s faculty of education. She is a Certified Peer Supporter, a Certified Peer Support and a member of Peer Support Canada’s Certification Committee.

Tracey Mitchell lives in Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon. She has been the Peer Support Mentor at Mental Health & Addiction Services in Saskatoon since 2014 and is a Peer Support Canada Certified Peer Support Mentor. Tracey also works as the Prairie Region Manager for Next Up, which focuses on leadership training for social and environmental justice.

What are the key ingredients that make a peer support program flourish? This session will share prelimiary findings from the Thriving Peer Support Programs research project, conducted in partnership with a virtual research community including peer supporters, people with lived experience, researchers and policymakers.

PRESENTERS: Dr. Simon Coulombe, Andriana Vinnitchok and Virtual Research Community Members

Dr. Simon Coulombe is Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. His research uses positive psychology methods in order to examine the individual, organizational and societal conditions that promote positive mental health of diverse communities, including people living with mental health issues. He is the leading academic researcher on a national study exploring the factors underlying promising mental health peer support practices.

Andriana Vinnitchok is a senior BA Psychology student at Wilfrid Laurier University, who has been pursuing community-based mental health research for the past 3 years. She is passionate about working with community organizations to conduct meaningful and practically-relevant research that contributes to our understanding of well-being.

Virtual Research Community Members

Can peer support exist in a clinical setting? This workshop will look at how Peer Supporter can work collaboratively within a clinical team to bring our invaluable peer lens to our roles, while keeping the spirit of peer support, shifting the focus from treatment planning to a recovery focus, and addressing moral distress we may experience in this role.

PRESENTER: Laura Stanford

Laura Stanford is the Peer Specialist with the Pinecrest Queensway ACT Team in Ottawa Ontario, where she brings her lived experience to all aspects of her job. In addition to individual peer support, Laura has started a monthly Peer Recovery Group. Prior to working with PQ ACTT, Laura worked as an addictions counsellor and an Outreach Worker.

This workshop will highlight the essential role of harm reduction peer work in Toronto. During the housing and opioid crises, peer workers affiliated with KAPOW (sex worker drop in for women), helped convince the government to open a 24hr drop in and quickly got naloxone into the hands of people who could most effectively reverse drug overdoses.

PRESENTERS: Carol Danis, Kathy Pinheiro, Debra Neil and Victoria Okazawa

Carol Danis is a University of Toronto graduate, former sex worker and proud drug user, who began her esteemed career as a peer worker. She excelled as a harm reduction outreach worker, speaker, trainer and activist, later joining the Bad Date Coalition and graduating from the Safer Stroll Program. Since 2011, she has led Sistering’s successful harm reduction peer support program. Kathy Pinheiro was a successful executive before losing everything to an addiction. However, with perseverance, and harm reduction strategies, she discovered her natural ability to do peer work. For almost 10 years, she has worked at both Parkdale and Queen West CHCs and Sistering, constantly giving back to her community. Kathy courageously embodies hope for people, as only a peer can.

Debra Neil has been practicing harm reduction for over ten years and is grateful to be alive, having overcome multiple difficulties such as cancer, mental distress and domestic violence.  As a peer worker at Sistering, Parkdale and Queen West CHCs, Debra has become a proud role model, incredible supporter, educator, facilitator, advocate, and trusted confidant to people living with similar struggles.

After a few years of doing crisis work, Victoria Okazawa realized that harm reduction offers the most humanistic approach to working with people who use drugs and it aligns with her core values.  She co-founded the Safer Crack Use Coalition, Bad Date Coalition, and KAPOW. Twenty years later, she remains a dedicated, harm reduction social worker at Parkdale Queen West CHC.

Participants explore the five stages in recovery from a psychological injury or trauma. Being aware there is a recovery framework validates the concept of mental health and wellness. Participants will utilize the five stages as a self-management tool to support their mental health and wellness. Participants will take away skills and techniques to support themselves and others to foster mental well-being.

PRESENTER: Mandi J. Buckner

Mandi Buckner is a Workplace and Peer Consultant specializing in the field of Mental Health. Mandi became the first Certified Peer Specialist in Ontario trained through the Georgia Department of Human Resources in the USA, attained a certification in Adult Education and became a CMHA Psychological Health & Safety Workplace Advisor. She has been involved in various mental health initiatives, and developed mental health courses at Sheridan College.

PAIL Network is a provincially funded organization in Ontario with a mandate to provide support to families and education to health care providers. PAIL Network’s Peer Support Volunteers play a vital role in offering unique support to bereaved families. Talking to someone who shares a lived experience of the loss of their pregnancy or death of their baby provides families with a type of support that has been found to decrease isolation and provide families with a much needed connection.

PRESENTER: Amy Muhr – Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network

Amy Muhr is the Volunteer Resource and Support Coordinator for Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network. Amy brings more than 10 years of experience working with volunteers in various capacities to her current role of coordinating over 100 peer support volunteers across Ontario. She is devoted to fostering a supportive program for all volunteers who share their heart and time with families who are grieving the loss of their pregnancy or death of their baby. Amy enjoys a rural life with her husband and 2 young children who, every day, remind her that the secret to having it all is knowing that you already do.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada, and The BC Centre for Excellence in Women Health, have identified peer support as essential for recovery. This poster presentation will describe the evaluation of peer support groups in the context of a hospital based women’s mental health service.

Findings indicate that women reported high levels of satisfaction, and significantly higher mean scores for recovery following participation in peer support groups.

PRESENTERS: Ann-Marie O’Brien and Anita Manley – The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre

Ann-Marie O’Brien is a clinical social worker and educator with a broad range of administrative, clinical, and academic experience. She is the lead for Women’s Mental Health at The Royal, and together with Anita Manley, was instrumental in developing peer support in the Women’s Mental Health service.

Anita Manley is a trained peer facilitator, and passionate mental health advocate. She was instrumental in developing peer support in Women’s Mental Health at The Royal. Anita shares her story of recovery with many audiences. She is an active member of advisory groups at the local and provincial levels. Anita is the recipient of The Royal’s 2015 Inspiration Award.”

This paper presentation will report on the recent validation of a psychometric scale developed organically within a CSI in Nothern Ontario. The presenter will discuss how the 3B Scale (Being, Belonging, Becoming) was developed, the recent validation and completion of the scale, and its possible uses for other CSIs and Peer programs.

PRESENTER: Martin Boucher – NISA, Northern Initiative for Social Action

Martin Boucher is a consumer-survivor from New Brunswick currently working and studying in Northern Ontario. He is the coordinator of a regional warm line, a peer-supporter, peer trainer, WRAP facilitator, mental health advocate, and a graduate student in critical disability studies.

This presentation will be delivered by peers working within CMHA Vancouver-Fraser’s Peer Navigator program. Peer Navigation is unique to mental health and includes building the capacity of individuals to navigate health, income, legal, housing, and community connections systems. The presentation will open with an overview of the Peer Navigator program as an example of a service that focuses on self-advocacy.

PRESENTER: Sarah Irving – Canadian Mental Health Association Vancouver-Fraser Branch

Life with a Baby is an innovative, evidence-informed peer led program, intended to detect and prevent maternal mental illness through social support and early intervention. By offering peer developed and led programming supported by well documented evidence as to the efficacy of peer-based interventions, Life with a Baby provides the necessary social support to overcome maternal mental health challenges.

PRESENTERS: Shannon Henning and Claire Kerr-Zlobin – Life With A Baby/Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative

Shannon Hennig is the Program Director of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative, a peer-led initiative dedicated to the active involvement of women with lived experience with maternal mental illness in research. After her own recovery from maternal mental illness she became acutely aware of the lack of patient engagement in maternal mental health research and has worked in both Canada and the US to build infrastructure to support “mom-powered research priorities”.

Claire Kerr-Zlobin is the Executive Director of Healthy Start, Healthy Future, the parent organization of Life with a Baby. Based in Ontario, Life with a Baby, was founded by Claire after her own battle with postpartum depression and anxiety in 2008. She understands the vital role of social support in the prevention of maternal mental illnesses and is a passionate advocate for peer-led, community-based programming.

This poter will focus on using social media the right way to draw participants into your program or onto your website. Using the example of the Life With a Baby program, which has successfully engaged over 100,000+ registered parents in community programs and events over the last nine years, this session will give you tools to engage participants online to get them out the door and into local community programs.

PRESENTERS: Shannon Henning and Claire Kerr-Zlobin – Life With A Baby/Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative

Shannon Hennig is the Program Director of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative, a peer-led initiative dedicated to the active involvement of women with lived experience with maternal mental illness in research. After her own recovery from maternal mental illness she became acutely aware of the lack of patient engagement in maternal mental health research and has worked in both Canada and the US to build infrastructure to support “mom-powered research priorities”.

Claire Kerr-Zlobin is the Executive Director of Healthy Start, Healthy Future, the parent organization of Life with a Baby. Based in Ontario, Life with a Baby, was founded by Claire after her own battle with postpartum depression and anxiety in 2008. She understands the vital role of social support in the prevention of maternal mental illnesses and is a passionate advocate for peer-led, community-based programming.

Magnolia House offers a clinical peer support (PS) program to adults in crisis. Anecdotal evidence for the meaningful impact of PS on patient recovery prompted a program evaluation to justify expansion of PS in acute care. However, measuring personal recovery as a direct outcome from PS has been challenging. Recognizing the importance of context, we developed a framework to capture the impact of PS on personal recovery using an integrated theoretical approach.

PRESENTERS: Daina Baldwin and Courtney Devane – Vancouver Coastal Health

Daina Baldwin is a Peer Support Assistant with Vancouver Coastal Health and a Peer Facilitator with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Daina began her career in Peer Support by taking the Sea to Sky Peer Support Training, with Debbie Sesula and Mary-Jane Moore. Daina completed her practicum and found employment at Magnolia House, a mental health and addictions crisis service where Daina herself was once a client.

Courtney Devane, RN, MN, is a PhD student in the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia. Courtney brings clinical expertise from the acute mental health setting and experience in two programs of research focused on optimizing health outcomes for Canadians through collaborative, mental health strategies. Under the supervision of Dr. Emily Jenkins and Dr. Geertje Boschma, Courtney aims to contribute to the evidence base informing peer support in acute mental health settings to enhance clients’ mental health outcomes.

A present day snapshot of challenges and system gaps peer workers face on clinical ACT Teams in Toronto. Future visioning of the role of an ACT peer support worker, supports required, and action steps towards establishing a harmonized ACT Team.

PRESENTER: Melissa Corcoran

Melissa Corcoran BSc MEd (candidate)

I strive to create inclusive spaces and encourage self-empowerment through compassionate exploration and self-care practices. My passions involve co-creating supportive communities and learning various forms of communication of the body, mind, and emotions. I trust in a holistic approach to wellness, inclusive of a continuum of perspectives, to navigate human suffering and challenges.

Organization: St Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto

Email: mcorcoran@stjoestoronto.ca

I am the first PSW for Alberta Health Services that specializes in substance use disorders in a hospital setting. Along with my emotional support based on my own lived experience with substance use and my own ongoing journey of recovery, I also provide patients and staff various supports.

PRESENTER: Robert Gurney – Addiction Recovery and Community Health (ARCH) – Inner City Health and Wellness Program

Robert “Rob” Gurney grew up on the Montreal Lake Cree Nation. Neglected and mistreated, he was later adopted. By his 20s, he was homeless, drinking and injecting drugs. He lived on the streets of Edmonton for about 10 years, having no contact with his family. Then one day five years ago, he decided to stop and help others by sharing his recovery journey

Are you supporting someone who may have encountered an Alternate form of Reality? Someone who Hears Voices no one else hears? This workshop will take you down the Rabbit Hole of Discovery. You will learn about CMHA Peel Pioneering Peer Groups for Voice Hearers and Alternate Realties and you will leave with a framework on how to recreate similar groups within your own organizations or communities.

PRESENTER: Jodie Grigsby – CMHA Peel

  • Lived experience
  • B.A./B.S.W. graduate from McMaster University with Honours; Social Service Worker Diploma from Mohawk College
  • 9 years front line experience; one year supervisory experience
  • Community Support Worker – Central Intake/Central Intake Resource Centre with CMHA Peel 2014 – present
  • Co-facilitator of peer based group Hearing Voices and Creator/Lead Facilitator of Alternate Realities”

Severe mental illness with psychotic symptoms (SMI) are a public health issue. Those afflicted with SMI, including caregivers, struggle to seek timely and relevant support. Findings from two community-based studies will demonstrate the need for peer-to-peer programming for SMI in Canada. Moreover, key components and steps for developing an online peer navigation platform for youth with SMI and their caregivers will be discussed.

PRESENTERS: Clayo Laanemets and Kayla Nicholls – Youth Advisory Council of/and Schizophrenia Society of Ontario; University of Toronto- Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME)

Clayo Laanemets is a graduate from the University of Toronto, with a Masters of Public Health in Health Promotion. She is the Principal Investigator of the ConnectingMINDS platform and the Research and Knowledge Translation Lead within the Youth Advisory Council at the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. Clayo is also a caregiver to a family member with a serious mental illness.

Kayla Nicholls is the Regional Coordinator for Toronto and York Region at the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. She provides oversight to the organizations clinical support and education portfolios. Kayla holds an undergraduate degree in Criminology with a concentration in Psychology from Carleton University and has 5+ years of experience working directly with families and individuals affected by serious mental illness.

PRESENTER: Kelly Philips

The Speaking Your Language training fills the unmet need of addressing mental health in a culturally sensitive way. The training was delivered to International Peer Mentors at Wilfrid Laurier University. The findings from the evaluation show that the training serves as a guide that prepares to (1) recognize mental health issues, (2) engage with and (3) support international students, who may be experiencing personal challenges.

PRESENTER: Andriana Vinnitchok

Andriana Vinnitchok is a senior BA Psychology student at Wilfrid Laurier University, who has been pursuing community-based mental health research for the past 3 years. She is passionate about working with community organizations to conduct meaningful and practically-relevant research that contributes to our understanding of mental health and wellbeing.

PRESENTER: Callum Ross – CMHA Calgary

PRESENTER: Dr. Simon Coulombe – WLU

This poster presentation chronicles the journey of creating an innovative validated tool for the fidelity of peer support roles in the mental health and addictions/substance use system. The Centre for Innovation in Peer Support took on the intense work of developing a new validated tool aligning the values of peer support. This will help others understand the rigor needed regarding the methodology/process to develop a validated tool ensuring people with lived experience were foundational to its creation.

PRESENTERS: Christina Jabalee and Betty-Lou Kristy – SHH Halton

Christina Jabalee, Peer Support Systems Lead for Our Beautiful Minds: Centre for Innovation in Peer Support in the Mississauga Halton Region. Christina brings her personal experience in the field of mental health/addictions/substance use through her family experience as a caregiver and navigating her own wellness. She completed her Bachelor of Social work degree and began presenting on her personal/family story to MPP’s, the All Party Select committee on mental health and addictions and in numerous newspaper articles. She has worked in the Mississauga Halton region for over 8 years facilitating family support groups, peer support groups, trainings, regional planning tables/committees and has presented 100’s of times to high school students and police officers, where she highlights the need for a human approach to health care, where we recognize we are all in this together.

Betty-Lou Kristy, is the Peer Support Substance Use (Provincial) Systems Lead for, Our Beautiful Minds: Centre for Innovation in Peer Support. She is a bereaved mother, in recovery for 18 years from alcohol/multi-drug addictions, trauma and mental health issues. Betty-Lou lost Pete, her 25-year-old son with concurrent disorders to an accidental opioid overdose in 2001. Betty-Lou has spent the last decade as a provincial system-level, lived experience/family – advisor, educator, and advocate – helping to frame policy, governance, and programming. She also provides peer support and outreach at the community level. Previous to this journey her background was in corporate marketing. She received the 2009 Transforming Lives Award from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and the 2012/13 ACE (Achievement, Commitment and Excellence) Award –Partner Relations category – from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, for her work with Expert Advisory Narcotics

This poster presentation showcases the Constellation Governance structure that the Centre for Innovation in Peer Support works within. The Centre used the foundational report of Health Canada’s Drug Treatment Funding Program’s (DTFP) Best Practices in Peer Support led by Addictions & Mental Health Ontario (AMHO 2014) to begin to form this structure in 2015 when beginning their work. This governance structure supports a shared sense of purpose around the implementation and integration of peer work, recognizing it is part of social change and working within a complex and dynamic healthcare system.

PRESENTERS: Christina Jabalee and Betty-Lou Kristy – SHH Halton

Christina Jabalee, Peer Support Systems Lead for Our Beautiful Minds: Centre for Innovation in Peer Support in the Mississauga Halton Region. Christina brings her personal experience in the field of mental health/addictions/substance use through her family experience as a caregiver and navigating her own wellness. She completed her Bachelor of Social work degree and began presenting on her personal/family story to MPP’s, the All Party Select committee on mental health and addictions and in numerous newspaper articles. She has worked in the Mississauga Halton region for over 8 years facilitating family support groups, peer support groups, trainings, regional planning tables/committees and has presented 100’s of times to high school students and police officers, where she highlights the need for a human approach to health care, where we recognize we are all in this together.

Betty-Lou Kristy, is the Peer Support Substance Use (Provincial) Systems Lead for, Our Beautiful Minds: Centre for Innovation in Peer Support. She is a bereaved mother, in recovery for 18 years from alcohol/multi-drug addictions, trauma and mental health issues. Betty-Lou lost Pete, her 25-year-old son with concurrent disorders to an accidental opioid overdose in 2001. Betty-Lou has spent the last decade as a provincial system-level, lived experience/family – advisor, educator, and advocate – helping to frame policy, governance, and programming. She also provides peer support and outreach at the community level. Previous to this journey her background was in corporate marketing. She received the 2009 Transforming Lives Award from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and the 2012/13 ACE (Achievement, Commitment and Excellence) Award –Partner Relations category – from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, for her work with Expert Advisory Narcotics

What is a Community of Practice?

A Community of Practice is a group of people who have a common interest, and wish to learn and share with others. Connecting with others sharing our passions can the best part of a conference. At the National Conference on Peer Support we have created a space for peer supporters and champions to connect with those doing similar work, learn, share promising practices, identity areas for collaboration, and more. We are hosting several Community of Practice “Meet Ups” on the Sunday evening:

  • COP1: Youth Peer Supporters
  • COP2: Peer Support in the Workplace
  • COP3: Family Peer Support
  • COP4: Peer Support and First Responders/Fire Fighters/Police/Vets
  • COP5: Research on Peer Support
  • COP6: Recovery College
  • COP7: Peer Support Mentors

These in person Meet Ups are designed to be informal gatherings with a simple agenda:

  • Connect with others in your specific area of interest
  • Learn about the work of others
  • Share what you are passionate about
  • Explore how you want to stay connected and continue the conversations

Peer Support Canada will support logistics moving forward (hosting virtual meetings, creating a dedicated online portal, etc.)