According to CAMH, 1 in 5 Canadians are struggling with mental illnesses right now. By the age of 40, fifty per cent of us will have experienced it first-hand. As a community, we have an opportunity to educate ourselves not only about the realities of mental health illness, but of the resources and support available that are making a difference. We can all benefit from an understanding of what we can do together to advance mental health and well-being in the places we work, live and play.
With a focus on youth resources, this panel will explore what supports currently exist, where we are building and innovating and what we need to do to plan and build capacity to help the youth of the future.
Dr. Priya Watson
Scientist, Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression
Dr. Watson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and a Clinician-Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She has appointments at CAMH as an Education Scholar and as a Scientist in the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression. Dr. Watson completed a Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology at Queen’s University, medical training at McMaster University, and child and adolescent psychiatry training at the University of Toronto. She also completed a CIHR Fellowship in the Transdisciplinary Approach to the Health of Marginalised Populations.
Founder & Executive Director, Jack.org
Eric started Jack.org with his wife Sandra Hanington and their closest friends in May 2010 after losing their son Jack to suicide. Since then, Eric has put aside his business interests and leads Jack.org full-time. Eric works tirelessly to inspire discussion about mental health, especially among young people. In 2013, Eric received the Champion of Mental Health award from CAMIHI and the QE Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2015, Eric was honoured by Queen’s University, receiving an honorary degree (LLD) recognizing his work in the field of mental health. In 2017, Eric and Sandra Hanington received the Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) from the office of the Governor General. Most recently, Eric was selected as one of the 150 CAMH Difference Makers for mental health in Canada. Eric is also recipient of the 2018 Queen’s Alumni Humanitarian of the Year Award. Eric sits on the board of FRAYME, a global youth mental health best practices non-profit.
Director of Toronto’s Lead Agency for Children’s Mental Health, East Metro Youth Services
David Willis is the Director of the Lead Agency, Strategy, Systems Management and Partnerships at Toronto’s Lead Agency for Children’s Mental Health, East Metro Youth Services. David leads a team in supporting 30 Children’s Mental Health agencies across Toronto in building pathways of care that reduce barriers, increase access and promote the continuum of mental health care and services across the lifespan. He leads the organization and the sector in developing relationships with funders, donors, stakeholders and others who want to partner in building a sustainable, effective, and accessible Children’s Mental Health sector. He is also responsible for key sector wide initiates such as the What’s Up Walk-in Clinics, Mental Health Toronto – a single point of access for youth and families into the mental health sector, Urban Tele-Mental Health – a sector city wide program providing access to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in partnership with Sickkids. David is also Director of the Provincial Youth Outreach Worker program connecting at risk youth to over 165 workers across the province.
Prior to the Lead Agency, David was at The Hospital for Sick Children within the leadership team of the Brain and Mental Health Program. David provided clinical leadership to the Tele-Link Mental Health program, Ambulatory Psychiatry, Urgent Care Clinic, Collaborative and Transitional Care, Mental Health Access Program, Consultation Liaison Psychiatry and the Division of Adolescent Medicine, which includes Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, Young Families, Good 2 Go, the Sity Clinic and Transgender Program.
His career in children’s mental health has spanned almost 3 decades, he sits on more than 20 national and international committees related to Children’s Mental Health and been recognized at the organizational, provincial and territorial levels for his work on reducing the barriers to service for vulnerable populations with a focus on Indigenous, Inuit and Metis youth. For 14 years, he has worked with Indigenous leaders from northern and north-western Ontario to support enhanced pathways to mental health services for their communities, children and youth.
David has served as President of the Board of Directors of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre and is the current Chair of Call a Service Seniors Transportation service (CAS). He is also the Chair of East Metro Health Group, Toronto Telemedicine Collaborative, The Mental Health TO Executive and is Chair of the What’s Up Walk-In Consortium.
Senior Health and Science Reporter, CBC National News
Christine Birak is a Senior Health and Science Reporter with CBC National News and host with CBC News Network. Christine has covered a range of important stories, ranging from the spread of Zika Virus and SARS to the crash of Air France, the Air India verdict and the ‘Toronto 18.’
Christine has also spent time with CBC News in Windsor, Fredericton and Moncton, N.B., working as a reporter, producer and host.
However, she didn’t initially see herself pursuing a career in journalism. After graduating with a science degree from the University of Toronto, Christine, travelled through much of Western Europe, parts of South-East Asia and the Middle East. She also lived in England and Japan. The experience of seeing how others lived, what they valued and how they viewed the world led her to study journalism and she hasn’t looked back.