Closing: Maintaining momentum

In this closing session we circled back to where we started with a broad view on amplifying momentum towards positive mental health. The closing keynote focused on global perspectives for upstream approaches to mental health. The session closed with reflections from the Public Health Agency of Canada and with ceremony.

Key messages

    • Momentum for mental health promotion and prevention is part of a historic and global policy trend towards greater recognition of the need to create conditions for wellbeing rather than focusing solely on individual-level services and outcomes. The importance for this type of approach is greater than ever.
    • Despite positive policy gains for upstream mental health approaches and general agreement on the value of this work, we continue to face challenges such as the tendency for governments and funders to default to downstream service provision.
    • It is difficult work that can be facilitated through knowledge exchange with others (including those outside of the health sector), drawing compelling ties to wider societal changes, communicating the urgency for change, and strategic navigation of the political context.


    • Gregor Henderson, Strategic Advisor, If Wellbeing Ltd, United Kingdom
    • Rosamund Dunkley, Director of Mental Health Promotion and Wellbeing, Public Health Agency of Canada
    • Elder Myeengun Henry, Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, University of Waterloo

In the words of the speakers

One of the things that we are facing is an uphill battle in convincing our governments to be more preventative … when we push the politicians and different political parties to take a longer-term vision and give them the courage and the evidence with which to make these bold steps … to give them that courage to go more upstream, invest more in prevention and see the longer term investment. And if governments and politicians don’t have that longer term vision, part of our job and responsibility is to show people why that is possible, how that can be, and the gains that can be made and to make their political choices based on that evidence and knowledge. Gregor Henderson

What we do is hard, but it’s emerging. We are all disruptors in the mental health space, and that can sometimes agitate some colleagues in other parts of the mental health ecosystem. But if we can do that in a respectful and a kind way, not everyone will get what we say, but we do what we do with the humility and knowledge that we are doing this based on our own, our families’, and our communities’ lived experience, and we need each other. And from my fortunate position to be able to go to different jurisdictions around the world, there is a huge global family and community out there who we can learn from, be inspired by and learn and make that impact that we all want to make together. Gregor Henderson

We all have a crucial role in the work towards maintaining and bolstering the field of mental health promotion through multi-sectoral action, a determinants of health focus, and meaningful reciprocal relationships, we can support long term sustainable transformations. We can also facilitate significant systems level shifts and everyday improvements for individuals and communities. Rosamund Dunkley

Indigenous Elders always talked about doing things in a in a full circle. And by the end of the day, or the end of the event, we would extinguish the fire and we would allow what transpired within that time to become what you need to know, and how you can learn from it and share that knowledge in other places. Elder Myeengun Henry

Resources related to this session

March 1, 2023