The unique gathering was the first of its kind in York Region, as nearly 300 participants met to discuss best practices and research on emerging trends in mental health care and the emotional well-being of children and adults.
The event, themed “trauma and practice across the life span,” included panel discussions, networking opportunities and art displays focusing on the issues of trauma resistance and resilience, as well as trauma-informed practice and compassion fatigue.
The Symposium also featured an introductory keynote address from The Honourable Michael Wilson, a longtime mental health advocate and Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Mr. Wilson has worked tirelessly in the political and advocacy arenas to help reduce the stigma that often prevents people with mental illness from seeking treatment.
Cathy Crowe, a respected author, filmmaker and professor was also one of the keynote presenters. Ms. Crowe, who refers to herself as a “street nurse,” rose to public prominence through her work with Toronto street-involved individuals in the early 1990s and continues to advocate for homeless populations. She shared her insights on the linkages between mental health challenges and a lack of safe and affordable housing in centres across Canada.
Fizza Jaffari, a recent graduate of Seneca’s Mental Health Intervention (MHI) graduate certificate program, said the Symposium presented an unprecedented learning and networking experience.
“This Symposium has given Seneca students the opportunity to participate in important mental health conversations,” says Fizza. “It’s been wonderful to meet some of this country’s most influential advocates and professionals in the mental health care community.”
This bi-annual symposium is the result of a $150,000 commitment from RBC over five years. RBC has also donated $150,000 for mental health community outreach, where Seneca’s MHI students explore and share best practices with community agencies.
The event concluded with the presentation of the RBC Community Partners Award, which was given to Blue Door Shelters. Since 1982, Blue Door has provided safe, supportive shelter space and services, at no-cost, for people in York Region who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.