Closing celebration: Consolidate the present, reflect on the past, anticipate the future

The closing session reflected on the forces that brought the 2022 symposium community together and provided perspective on the growth of the mental health promotion community and on critical success factors for building influence and impact in this field. Perspectives were offered from the KDE Hub and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The KDE Hub’s incoming scientific co-directors were introduced.

Key messages

    • Forces that brought symposium participants together and that support the growth of mental health promotion include: worsening mental health problems and conditions that drive them, shared vision and purpose, expertise, a desire for positive change, and a spirit of collaboration.
    • Mental health promotion is in a growth phase, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the need to use culture as foundation, mobilize diverse knowledges, fill systemic gaps, and address inequities will facilitate recovery and optimize the health and wellness of all Canadians.
    • Appreciation and acknowledgements were extended to all those involved in the Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund community. Special thanks were made to MHP-IF projects for their efforts to improve the mental health of children and youth, and to Barb Riley, as the exiting founding scientific director of the KDE Hub. A warm welcome was extended to the incoming scientific co-directors, Alice Schmidt Hanbidge and Colleen McMillan.


    • Shannon Bradley Dexter (session chair), Senior Policy Analyst, Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund, Public Health Agency of Canada
    • Barb Riley, Scientific Director, KDE Hub for Mental Health Promotion
    • Karen McKinnon, Director General, Centre for Health Promotion, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada

In the words of the speakers

My hope is real and it’s big. We are no doubt entering a growth phase for mental health promotion. There is energy and momentum to change what’s broken in our systems and structures so that so many people do not reach breaking points themselves. Barb Riley

I believe the desire to support mental wellness and flourishing is so compelling because it’s as much in the structures and systems of societies, sometimes considered ‘out there’, as it is ‘in here’, in our own hearts and minds, the lived experiences we have of feeling our own version of flourishing and our own version of languishing too. Barb Riley

I hope that we can continue to build on the momentum of the last several days by fostering relationships and partnerships in support of mental health promotion. And I believe…that through the symposium we together have planted some seeds that will continue to help mental health promotion flourish. I know that together in the future we will reap their bounty. Karen McKinnon

February 18, 2022