Opening Session: #ThisIsMHP

This session extended a warm welcome to all, gave orientation to the symposium, and provided a first opportunity to interact directly with the projects and people of the Mental Health Promotion Innovation Fund (MHP-IF). The focus of this session was mental health promotion in action. The session began with words and ceremony from the KDE Hub, Renison University College, University of Waterloo, and the Government of Canada. Participants engaged with MHP-IF projects in breakout rooms, where project teams discussed their work and referenced project materials in their Gallery Walk space on the event’s virtual platform.

Key messages

    • It’s a unique moment for growing mental health promotion in Canada, and for gathering as a community that can help mental health promotion flourish.
    • The MHP-IF provides rich examples of mental health promotion in action and opportunities (like this event) for making connections and learning with a broader community.
    • Individually, every person has the power to make a difference in the lives of others. Collectively, there is power in those who gather to support each other in efforts to help individuals flourish mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
    • Local programming is key to upstream mental health promotion that is equitable and culturally appropriate. It is in households, neighbourhoods and other local settings where the unique and diverse needs of individuals and groups are best understood and best addressed.
    • While meeting on a virtual platform, we gratefully acknowledge the ancestral and unceded territory of all the Inuit, Métis, and First Nations people who call this land home, and commit to move forward in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.


    • Barb Riley (session chair), Scientific Director, KDE Hub for Mental Health Promotion
    • Elder Jean Becker, Office of Indigenous Relations, University of Waterloo
    • Kristiina Montero, Vice President Academic and Dean, Renison University College
    • Wendy Fletcher, President & Vice-Chancellor, Renison University College
    • The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

In the words of the speakers

Gratitude is the word that must be said before all else, and it must be said when three or more people gather. Teaching about gratitude fosters mental health. Elder Jean Becker

The pandemic brought to our consciousness the many inequities, including mental health support for children and youth. Kristiina Montero

As a young person journeys and struggles even in the most complicated of situations, all that is really needed is one person, one mentor, one teacher, one social worker, one elder… one person to reach toward the struggling suffering young and say I’m here. … One person is all it takes… Not only is there power in the one, but in the ones who gather and support the ones. Wendy Fletcher

The upstream work that you’re doing is going to be pivotal for the long term. Minister Carolyn Bennett

Only through local programming, where individual community needs are understood, will we be able to keep people healthy. Minister Carolyn Bennett (translated from French).

Resources related to this session

February 16, 2022