Opening session: Gathering momentum

The opening session set the stage for two days of learning, connecting, and growing shared understandings, within the theme of growing momentum for mental health promotion.

Key messages

  • Mental health is health – just as everyone is affected by physical health challenges, so too are we all affected by mental health challenges.
  • Upstream approaches to mental health are gaining momentum thanks to greater understanding of the connection between mental wellbeing, the environment, and social determinants of health. To be effective, these approaches require collaboration across sectors and jurisdictions.
  • Mental health inequities will persist as long as we apply colonial lenses and perpetuate systemic biases. Foregrounding truth and reconciliation, and anti-racist strategies are a key component of mental health promotion in Canada


      • Drs. Colleen MacMillan and Alice Schmidt Hanbidge, Scientific Co-Directors, KDE Hub for Mental Health Promotion
      • The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
      • Elder Myeengun Henry, Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, University of Waterloo
      • Dr. Wendy Fletcher, President and Vice-Chancellor, Renison University College, University of Waterloo

In the words of the speakers

We now see an opportunity across the entire health portfolio to leverage the momentum that has been gained in the field of mental health promotion to address some of these social determinants of health and continue promoting health equity across the population … This work has to involve all sectors, all jurisdictions. All types of expertise. And all kinds of research, policy practice perspectives. That’s why I’m so excited by this opportunity to network to share vital experiences and gather new knowledge. After all, we’re all in this together as we learn from one another. The Honourable Carolyn Bennett

No matter where you come from in this world, …. you have a drum. You have prayers and you have songs. And when you put them together around the world, we can find the unity once again that humans always have to be reminded of. Elder Myeengun Henry

This work that we share, it touches every life. Every life. There is not a person among us who is not touched by mental health challenges of varying kinds and to varying degrees, depending on the day and the hour. Every life is affected. And we who are committed to mental health wellbeing know that every life is precious. For me, that knowing lies at the very heart of the work that we’re holding together in the space of these hours. Dr. Wendy Fletcher