Bell Let's Talk and The Rossy Family Foundation commit $1 million to develop a national standard for post-secondary student mental health


  • New standard to establish mental health best practices at Canadian universities, colleges and institutes to support student mental health and academic success
  • Standard will be developed in collaboration with students, staff and faculty
  • The Rossy Family Foundation and Bell Let's Talk each donating $500,000

MONTRÉAL, Jan. 29, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell Let's Talk and The Rossy Family Foundation (The RFF) today announced a joint $1,000,000 donation for the creation of a national standard for post-secondary student mental health to support student success on campuses across Canada. The RFF and Bell Let's Talk have engaged the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to lead the project to establish the standard in collaboration with Canada's standards setting organizations.

"The success of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace set the stage for this new initiative. We believe there is tremendous potential to improve the lives and academic success of Canada's post-secondary students by taking a similar systematic approach," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "Colleges and universities throughout the country are working hard to ensure a psychologically healthy and safe environment for their students. As with the workplace standard, they will benefit from a nationally established, systematic framework to guide and facilitate their mental health efforts."

"Post-secondary education is an exciting time as youth stretch their wings and become more independent," said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. "It is also a time of increased susceptibility to mental health problems and illnesses as students juggle financial, academic, family and personal demands. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is pleased to work with our partners to develop a standard that will provide a roadmap for educational institutions as they strive to safeguard and promote student mental health."

"The health and well-being of students is a priority for Canada's universities and we applaud Bell's leadership and commitment on this important initiative," said Paul Davidson, President of Universities Canada. "We look forward to working with Bell Let's Talk, The Rossy Family Foundation, the Mental Health Commission of Canada and others to ensure that students, staff and faculty are well-supported."

"Providing a positive and healthy learning environment for all has always been a priority for Colleges and institutes across Canada," said Denise Amyot, President and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada. "As the national conversation on mental health has evolved over the years, they have always been at the forefront and have worked diligently to continually improve their services and support their students. Colleges and Institutes Canada is thrilled to be a partner as our members and their students will benefit immensely from this national standard for post-secondary student mental health, which will help all Canadian post-secondary institutions share and access best practices from across the country."

A national standard for post-secondary student mental health will create a practical and flexible framework that enables institutions to protect and promote students' psychological health and safety. Like the workplace standard, it will provide guidance for Canadian universities, colleges and institutes to promote student success through a collaborative approach to mental health between staff, faculty and students.

Of the more than 2 million people enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions, almost 70% are 24 or under, a demographic particularly susceptible to developing mental health issues. Research by the US National Institute of Mental Health has shown that 75% of people with a mental health disorder receive their first diagnosis between 16 and 24. Canada's National College Health Assessment Survey found 32% of students have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety or depression in the previous year.

At the same time, young people are more engaged when it comes to mental health than ever before, with 87% saying they are more aware of mental health issues than 5 years ago, according to research conducted by Nielsen last October.

Bell Let's Talk helped fund the development of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace in 2013, and was one of the first organizations to adopt the standard. The new post-secondary standard aims to establish a similar evidence-informed, systematic approach to addressing mental health, a practical and flexible framework that individual institutions can adapt to their unique environments.

Bell Let's Talk Day is January 31
We invite everyone to take part in the mental health conversation on Bell Let's Talk Day. Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for each of these interactions on January 31, at no extra cost to participants:

  • Text and talk: Every text message, mobile and long distance call made by Bell customers
  • Twitter: Every tweet using #BellLetsTalk including a Bell Let's Talk hashtag emoji and Bell Let's Talk Day video view
  • Facebook: Every view of the Bell Let's Talk Day video at and use of the Bell Let's Talk frame
  • Instagram: Every Bell Let's Talk Day video view
  • Snapchat: Every use of the Bell Let's Talk filter and video view

Bell Let's Talk Day 2017 set all new records with 131,705,010 messages, growing Bell's funding for Canadian mental health by $6,585,250.50. #BellLetsTalk was Canada's top hashtag in 2017, and is now the most used Twitter hashtag ever in Canada.

With approximately 729,065,654 interactions by Canadians over the last 7 Bell Let's Talk Days, Bell's total commitment to mental health, including an original $50-million anchor donation in 2010, has risen to $86,504,429.05. Bell expects its donation commitment to reach at least $100 million in 2020. To learn more, please visit

About The Rossy Family Foundation
The Rossy Family Foundation is a Montréal-based philanthropic foundation that funds initiatives in mental health, health care, education, the arts and Canadian civil society.

About the Mental Health Commission of Canada
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.

Raymond James Partners with To Help Deliver Canada's Premiere Online Resource for Child & Youth Mental Health Care Professionals


TORONTO, Dec. 6, 2017 /CNW/ - In a new and exciting partnership, investment dealer Raymond James Ltd., is now Presenting Sponsor of (Umind) – an international online community dedicated to helping child and youth mental health professionals, educators and student learners expand their expertise, collaborate and grow in their profession. Umind accomplishes this through its vast library of resources, practical tools and online training opportunities for professionals in the mental health space. Developed by Kids' Health Links Foundation (KHLF), in collaboration with Umind's clinical partner Lutherwood, and supported by its academic partner Mohawk College, this unique platform breaks down resource silos to build a virtual community globally connected in their commitment to improve the lives of children and youth and their families living with mental health issues. Umind's registered members include frontline and administrative child and youth mental health staff, health care professionals, educators, post-­secondary students and other professionals working with children and families, representing over 300 organizations within Canada and internationally.

Raymond James' partnership will help expand the Umind Webinar Series, which was created in 2014 in response to an expressed need by mental health professionals for more accessible and practice-­specific professional development opportunities. In 2018, Umind webinars will include such critical topics as, 'How to Support Children and Youth Questioning Their Gender Identity', 'Legalization of Marijuana and the Impact on the Mental Health System', and 'Grief and Trauma in Mental Health'. Raymond James' sponsorship dollars will also help Umind continue to grow its online collection of over 950 practical tools, promising interventions and valuable resources developed by children's mental health treatment centres across Canada.

"We are very excited about our partnership with Umind," says Peter Kahnert, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and Marketing, "We look forward to working with the Umind team to grow this important resource to support children and youth living with mental illness and those professionals reaching out to help make a difference in the lives of many."

According to the World Health Organization, 20 percent of the world's children and youth have mental health disorders or issues. This partnership comes at a time when the need for child and youth mental health information and resources has never been greater.

Kids' Health Links Foundation Chairman and Co-­founder, Basile Papaevangelou says, "It's because of the heart and vision of companies like Raymond James that programs like Umind have a chance  to  fulfill  their  potential  and  make  their greatest impact. Bridging business and social enterprise, this partnership is an example of what's possible when companies step-­up to the plate and partner withsocial services to help support the well-­being of the communities in which they serve."

About Umind
Umind is a dynamic online community where mental health professionals access information, connect and share practical tools, knowledge, and training to help improve the lives of children and youth and their families living with mental health issues. It is an initiative launched and supported by Kids' Health Links Foundation (KHLF) and its clinical partner, Lutherwood. For more information, visit

About Lutherwood
For nearly 50 years, children, youth and their families have trusted Lutherwood's mental health services to support them as they cope with serious behavioural, emotional and psychological challenges. The agency provides residential treatment and assessment, community and school-based support, counsels families, and operates a shelter for youth at risk of being homeless. For more information, please visit

About Kids' Health Links Foundation
Kids' Health Links Foundation was founded by Basile Papaevangelou and his daughter Christina to foster initiatives focused on alleviating the stress, isolation and loneliness for kids and teens undergoing medical care so that they might be better able to overcome traumatic medical experiences. For more information about Kids' Health Links Foundation please visit

About Raymond James
Raymond James Financial, Inc. (NYSE: RJF) is a leading diversified financial services company providing wealth management for individual investors and families, capital markets, asset management, banking and other services to individuals, corporations and municipalities. The company has approximately 7,300 financial advisors in 3,000 locations throughout Canada, the United States and overseas. Total client assets under administration are US$693 billion. Public since 1983, the firm is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RJF. Additional information is available at

SOURCE Raymond James Ltd.

New National Mental Health Coalition Seeks Equitable Access to Depression Medications

'An employment lottery should not be the basis for treating the most significant public health issue of the 21st century'

OTTAWA, May 3, 2017 /CNW/ - During CMHA's Mental Health Week, Canadians are being asked to 'get loud' for mental health. It's all part of this year's Sick of Waiting: Get Loud for Mental Health campaign. A newly formed group of mental health professionals and leaders, advocates, doctors, academics and people with lived experience is lending its voice to the campaign — and calling for changes to Canada's public drug plan system that prevents many Canadians from getting the treatment they need to get better.

The Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM) coalition — led by three of Canada's strongest advocates for mental wellness, Phil Upshall, National Executive Director of the Mood Disorders Society of Canada; Dr. Patrick Smith, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association; and Jeff Moat, President of Partners for Mental Health — states that under the current system, Canada's most vulnerable — the marginalized, the unemployed, veterans, seniors, single parents, Indigenous peoples — are unable to access the latest medications that could help them get better.

In forming the coalition, CEADM intends to:

  • create awareness and recognition among policy-makers about the complexity of major depressive disorder and the effects of depression on Canadians' overall health;
  • highlight the inequity issue for many Canadians who rely on what is a broken public drug plan approval system; and
  • make better depression care a priority among policy-makers.

Improving the system will go a long way to treating what is the most significant public health issue of the 21st century.

"Canadians who live with mental illness already face the barrier of stigma as well as being debilitated by this disease," says Mr. Upshall. "But in Canada, people who rely on the provincial and territorial public drug plans either can't get access to or face considerable delays in accessing the latest medicines to treat their illness. Contrast this to people with private plans, where access to innovative medicines is far more efficient and timely."

Dr. Smith points out that this federal government has taken a bold leadership stand for mental health.  Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott has remarked on the importance of improving accessibility to pharmaceuticals for Canadians and investing more into mental health treatment. Through her leadership and that of her fellow ministers, we are beginning to see real action taken to transform Canada's response to mental health. "Yet, despite open conversations and thoughtful discourse, despite public policy strategies and emerging philanthropic interest in mental health, people who are living with mental illness still struggle to get the care and supports they need, with ease and without prejudice," Dr. Smith adds.

Compared to other OECD countries, Canada can do better, says Laureen MacNeil, CEADM's Alberta Regional Co-Chair and Executive Director, CMHA Calgary Region: "Access to new medicines in Canada's public drug plans is lagging when compared to access in private sector drug plans, and when compared to public drug plans in other countries."

First responders like Ron Campbell, a retired RCMP officer from Alberta who has dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression, and is a member of the national coalition, appreciates the fact that his private drug plan enabled him to get the support and therapy he needed. "I'm one of the lucky ones whose private drug plan covered some of these innovative new medicines. But there are so many Canadians who aren't as fortunate as I. Access to the right medicines shouldn't be an issue for anyone. It isn't right."

The one in five Canadians who experience mental illness and the $51 billion-a-year-cost to the Canadian economy underscore the scale of the problem.

"Depression is a significant public health issue, and it's getting more problematic," says Ann Marie MacDonald, CEADM's Ontario Regional Co-Chair and Executive Director of the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. "One in five Canadians is affected by mental illness and about 4,000 die by suicide every year. Sadly, suicide is a leading cause of death among our young people. Yet, despite the magnitude of the problem, government investment in mental health care is modest at best."

CEADM's call for change to the public drug plan system is both an equity issue and a moral issue.

"It is time for Canada to change the way we support people with mental health problems or illness.  Access to treatment should not be limited to those select few with employment benefits," adds Mr. Moat. "Changing the process that recommends drugs for reimbursement by provincial and territorial public drug plans to allow all Canadians access to the latest and best drugs to treat this complex illness is the right thing to do."

Backgrounder - Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM)

In an unprecedented move, mental health professionals and leaders, advocates, doctors, academics and people with lived experience from across the country have joined together to form a coalition to ensure equitable and sustainable access for all Canadians suffering with depression.

Through Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM), these coalition members are speaking with a common voice on behalf of Canadians who need equitable access to medication to treat their depression, regardless of their income, education or access to employment benefits.

CEADM's objectives are to:

  • create awareness among policy-makers about the complexity of major depressive disorder and the effects of depression on Canadians' overall health;
  • highlight the inequity/fairness issue for many Canadians who rely on a public drug plan approval system that requires fixing; and
  • make depression care a priority among policy-makers.

The Issue Around Inequity and the Public Drug Plan System

At the heart of the problem, preventing vulnerable Canadians from accessing the latest medicines, are three related issues.

Number 1: Depression is complex, with 227 different combinations of symptoms. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to treatment. A wide choice of therapy is critical to be able to find the best option for individual patients when it comes to treating mental illness — one that addresses not only mood but also changes in sleep patterns and appetite, as well as cognition.

Number 2: Canadians who depend on public drug coverage because of a lack of income, education or access to employment benefits are limited to a range of drugs that are available to treat depression. Currently, public drug plans only cover medications that were developed to address mood symptoms However, as we learn and understand more about depression, it is clear that a broader range of choice of medications brings with it a greater probability of success. Unfortunately, that broader range of choice of medications is not available to those on public drug plans.

Number 3: Despite the fact that innovative medications have been approved as safe and effective treatments by Health Canada, a complex multi-stage review process is preventing these medications from being approved for public drug plan coverage.

Under the current system, new drugs are submitted to a health technology assessment (HTA) agency for evaluation. While it is not the only element that is evaluated, the cost of a medication does play a significant role in the decision-making process, even though HTA evaluations are meant to be evidence-based, where clinical effectiveness and safety are also considered. The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) then releases its final recommendations to the federal and provincial/territorial governments.

Of the 21 new mental health drug submissions filed to the CADTH between 2004 and 2015:

  • 76.2% were given negative recommendations for public drug plan coverage.
  • 100% of the submissions for major depressive disorder received a negative recommendation — not listed for reimbursement — while of the 134 non-mental health drug submissions, 65 (48.5%) received a negative recommendation.
  • The review process was considerably lengthier, at 242 days on average for mental health drugs compared to 192 days for non-mental health drugs.
  • It is estimated that the direct costs of new mental health drugs on provincial, territorial and the federal Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) public drug plans represents less than 1 percent of the more than $54 billion in societal costs associated with the economic burden of mental illness in Canada.


  • Public drug plan spending on the direct costs of new mental health drugs was less than 1% of the more than $54.6 billion associated with the total economic burden of mental illness in Canada for 205.

Members of Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication to date:

Phil Upshall, National Leadership Team, Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Dr. Patrick Smith, National Leadership Team, Canadian Mental Health Association

Jeff Moat, National Leadership Team, Partners for Mental Health

Ann Marie MacDonald, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; Mood Disorders Association of Ontario

Michael Landsberg, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; #SickNotWeak

Laureen MacNeil, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; Canadian Mental Health Association, Calgary

Ron Campbell, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; person with lived experience

Dave Grauwiler, Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta

Camille Quenneville, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Dr. Sid Kennedy, University Health Network

Pratap Chokka, Chokka Centre for Integrative Health

Bill Gaudette, formerly CMHA, Past Member, Provincial Mental Health Board (Alberta)

Brianne Moore, person with lived experience, Ontario

Jean-François Claude, person with lived experience, Ontario

SOURCE Coalition for Equitable Access to Depression Medication

Using Reality TV to Improve Men's Mental Health

Toronto psychiatrist creates bold, experimental web series Think You Can Shrink? to improve men's mental health and reduce stigma.

TORONTO, May 1, 2017 /CNW/ - A Toronto psychiatrist has developed a unique initiative to help remove the stigma associated with mental health issues among men and encourage them to seek professional help.

Dr. Thomas Ungar, an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and Head of Psychiatry at North York General Hospital, created Think You can Shrink?, a reality TV-style web series that is generating positive results among viewers.

"Mental health issues are widely misunderstood and stigmatized among the general public," Dr. Ungar said. "I wanted to create something that goes beyond traditional health promotion. I hope that by playing with everyday pop culture like a reality show, we can help people become more comfortable with mental illness and get the help they need."

With innovation funding from the Movember Foundation, the world's leading men's health charity, and support from the North York General Hospital Foundation, Dr. Ungar created Think You Can Shrink?, a three-episode web series that focuses on intimate subjects rarely portrayed in popular culture: suicidal depression, testicular lumps, and explaining how to deal with a narcissist.

"Mental health issues are particularly acute among men, who are more likely than women to try to tough it out or struggle alone," Dr. Ungar said, noting that three out of four suicides are men and that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among men aged 15 to 29.

Employing a method used to train medical students, actors are coached to portray mental health problems.  Contestants with everyday jobs who think they are good at giving advice (a bartender, a hairdresser and a strip club owner) test their skills – both successfully and unsuccessfully.  Judges include a psychiatrist, an emergency room/family doctor and celebrity Rick Campanelli, co-host of ET Canada.

"It was a fine line to walk, trying to not be exploitive of mental health issues, but entertaining so people would watch" Dr. Ungar said.  The web series avoids the shaming factor of reality TV to show that strong male support and communication is possible, de-stigmatizing the act of reaching out for help.

A survey of people who watched the episodes concludes that the reality TV-style was successful in de-stigmatizing mental health issues and encouraging people to seek professional care.  Seventy-five per cent of viewers said they were more likely to seek help if needed, and 86% would be more comfortable supporting a friend or family member who had the same health issue as portrayed in the video, according to the study in the Journal of Technology and Behavioral Science.

About the Movember Foundation:

The Movember Foundation is the only global charity focused solely on men's health. We raise funds that deliver innovative, breakthrough research and support programs to enable men to live happier, healthier, longer lives. Awareness and fundraising activities are run year-round, with the annual Movember Campaign in November being globally recognized for its fun, disruptive approach to fundraising and getting men to take action for their health. Since Movember started in Melbourne, Australia in 2003, millions have joined the movement, raising over $759 Million and funding over 1,200 projects focused on men's mental health & suicide prevention, prostate and testicular cancer. You can help stop men dying too young at

SOURCE Dr. Tom Ungar

How to Change Your Environment to Improve Your Health

From Elizabeth DeRosa of Finding The Way Integrative Nutrition Health Coach & Author

The number of serious and chronic health issues facing children, individuals, and families continues to increase year after year. Some of these health concerns include an increase in diabetes, cancer, heart disease related diagnosis, mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, digestive disorders, obesity, and asthma, These health concerns effect not only our physical health, but just as importantly, our emotional and spiritual health. Important steps to better daily health includes advocacy, education, empowerment, and action. Taking control of your health is one of the greatest gift you can give yourself. By creating a healthy environment, you are creating the opportunity for overall wellness on many different levels.

Tips for creating a healthy environment:

  • What concerns do you have about your health or what goals have you set for yourself in terms of overall wellness? Keep a journal and make this a priority in your life. If you suffer from a medical condition, get your medical records and become your own advocate.
  • Look at the food you eat daily. Most people consume the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is composed of chemicals, preservatives, added sugar, “white” flour, unhealthy oils, GMOs, pesticide and antibiotic residue, artificial coloring and flavors, and more. The SAD is typically void of the proper nutrients our bodies require to sustain maximum health. Can you begin to make small changes each week to transition to a Green, Living, and Alkalizing Diet (GLAD)? Including whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, pasture raised meats, wild caught seafood, and healthier oils in your daily diet is important. Read labels and know where your food comes from. This also includes your beauty products and cleaning supplies. For example, the average women is exposed to 168 chemicals daily from her beauty products and most of these have never been tested for human safety.
  • Get the proper amount of sleep each night:

School age children (6-13 yrs.) 9-11 hours per day

                              Teenagers: (14-17 yrs.) 8-10 hours per day

                              Younger adults: (18-25 yrs.) 7- 9 hours per day

                              Adults: (26-64 yrs.) 7-9 hours per day

                              Older adults: (65+) 7-8 hours per day

Due to stress and increased daily demands, we are living in the sympathetic nervous system or the fight, flight, or freeze mode. In this state, our body is constantly releasing hormones to compensate. The parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and digest, is where we want to reside. Sleep is a very important process that assists our body in recovery and rejuvenation from the inside out.

  • Proper hydration is important. Drinking adequate water daily is essential for normal bodily function. Water intake can also include incorporating juicing, smoothies, teas, broths, and soups.
  • Get the body moving! Exercise is important for the lymphatic system and removal of toxins from the body. Develop a daily routine of getting some form of exercise.
  • Mediation/prayer is a great way to center and balance yourself in this fast- paced and stressful world.


Ontario Shores and Mozzaz to Launch Mobile Mental Health App

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) and Mozzaz are set to formally unveil their patient engagement mobile app which delivers personalized mobile interventions to patients.

Ontario Shores, a specialty mental health hospital in Whitby, Ontario, and Mozzaz, a digital health company based in Waterloo, Ontario, are engaged in a project that elevates the patient experience by providing a tool which engages patients in their care at their convenience.

The launch event will feature a demonstration of the mobile app along with remarks from Ontario Shores President and CEO Karim Mamdani and Rini Gahir, co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Mozzaz.

Date: Thursday, March 23, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Place: Main Lobby (Building 5, Level 2)
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
700 Gordon Street
Whitby, Ontario


About Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences:
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) is a leader in mental health care, providing a range of specialized assessment and treatment services for people living with complex mental illness. Patients benefit from a recovery-oriented environment of care, built on compassion, inspiration and hope. Ontario Shores engages in research, education and advocacy initiatives to advance the mental health care system.

About Mozzaz:
Mozzaz is a digital health company specializing in patient engagement technology for individuals with complex care needs and the care teams that support them. With a versatile mobile intervention model, Mozzaz can support patient engagement programs for a wide range services including disabilities, behavioural and mental health, and chronic care conditions. Through personalized mobile care plans, Mozzaz can collect data to enable providers and health plans to connect, measure and predict clinical and financial outcomes of quality care keeping patients safe and supported.

SOURCE Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences

Let's talk about the prevalence of youth suicide and take action, say Ontario Psychiatrists

Report shows that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of young people 

Suicide is the leading cause of death among Canadians age 15 to 34, after car accidents, says an alarming report from Ontario Psychiatrists. But unlike car accidents, the report identifies that the number of suicides across Canada has remained unchanged for more than four decades, with 70 per cent of mental health issues starting in childhood and suicide accounting for 24 per cent of all deaths among young people.  Ontario Psychiatrists are calling for immediate action, releasing a report that makes strong recommendations and calls on government to mend system gaps and reduce the risk of suicide among Canadian youth.

"Despite the prevalence of mental illness and suicide among young Canadians, today's society is still facing challenges around stigma and access to services making it far too hard for our youth to get the care they need," said Dr. Diana Kljenak, Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "Heroic efforts by Bell Let's Talk and others within our health care system, government and communities are made everyday to encourage discussion around suicide and mental illness, but we need action. Now."

The report Stemming the Tide: Strengthening youth suicide prevention in Ontario and in Canadawas developed by Ontario Psychiatrists with input from Ontario policy analysts, national mental health organizations, clinicians, researchers, as well as psychiatrists and individuals with lived experience with suicide. Outlining the current state of mental health and youth suicide, the report points to system gaps and funding issues as areas in need of improvement.

Ontario Psychiatrists identify the need for greater leadership on the issue and list seven challenges and recommendations to address the problem of youth suicide:

  1. Invest in better mental health support for children.
  2. Close the system gaps.
  3. Build better care coordination and service alignment.
  4. Improve the collection and quality of data.
  5. Provide better access to funding.
  6. Provide better support for parents, families, caregivers and communities.
  7. Invest in child and youth mental health research.

"The federal and Ontario government have agreed that our mental health system needs to improve in order to meet the needs of Canadians whether they are in crisis, at risk of crisis or averted a crisis," said Dr. Gary Chaimowitz, Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "Suicide is a symptom of mental illness. By taking action to address mental illness and improving access to treatment, we will improve care and reduce the suicide rate among young Canadians."

About the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists: The Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists is a formal partnership of the Ontario Psychiatric Association and the Section on Psychiatry of the Ontario Medical Association. The Coalition represents over 1,900 psychiatrists in Ontario. One of the Coalition's primary goals is to advocate for improved mental health services in Ontario and to work with other stakeholders and government to develop better policy. Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and provide high quality mental health services to Ontarians.

SOURCE Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists

As the New Year approaches, many people begin to ponder about potential New Year’s resolutions. Whether it be getting into better shape, or advancing your career, the first step in making personal and professional enhancements is shoring up the foundation… which is YOU.  As you develop your New Year resolutions, it is important to prioritize mental health and wellness goals. Chinwe Williams is an associate professor at Argosy University, Atlanta. She also has private practice where she helps many of her patients deal with stress and anxiety. Wellness strategies have become essential for the prevention of physical and mental health illnesses.  Below are a few simple self-care tips that Dr. Williams says you can immediately implement to help you optimize your overall mental and emotional well-being.

Dr. Williams' 6 Mental Health and Wellness Tips

  1. Limit the use of technology. Technology holds an important place in our modern society. However, the amount of time we spend on technology is astonishing and can impact us socially and psychologically. While technology can provide a nice escape from life stressors (e.g., Netflix binges and Instagram surfing), our attachment to technology can also breed isolation.  A study looking at human behavior noted a negative relationship with increased social media use and happiness in relationships. Additionally, taking a break from technology is a great way to give your brain some much needed down time allowing creativity to flow in.  Intentional disengagement with your smart phone may lead to intentional and meaningful engagement with others.
  2. Take a hike. Thanks to cognitive neuroscience, we know that physical health is a key component of mental health.  The mind and body is not just connected but deeply intertwined.  Our bodies immediately respond to the way we think, feel, and behave. Movement based practices have been shown to boost endorphins, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Physical activity can also help clear your head of thoughts making room for sharper focus.  Whether your New Year resolution involves starting a new hobby, losing a few pounds or enhancing your overall health, try to commit to brief, but regular, exercise practices. Yoga, Zumba, or hiking are just a few activities that can calm your mind and your body.
  3. Nurture important relationships. Relationships need maintenance, just like anything else. The importance of spending quality time with close friends and family cannot be overestimated. While there are a dozen technological ways to connect with friends, there’s nothing like real face time, specifically sharing the same space and breathing the same air as another human being. Small gestures build strong connections. Plan to spend time with loved ones on a routine basis just to unwind, laugh, and have some old fashion fun. You know that person that keeps popping up in your mind this week? Give him/her a call. It may not be such a random thought.
  4. Begin Journaling. The first step in improving your mental and emotional health is recognizing your thoughts and emotions, and understanding the root of them. Expressing yourself through writing can help to ease mental discomfort by releasing negative, destructive emotions.  Begin the practice of journaling by jotting down your thoughts and feelings about events that occurred during the day. Journaling is very therapeutic-it enhances your self-awareness and understanding of what is deeply meaningful to you.  Be sure to start or end each journaling session by including what you are most grateful for.  Gratitude is acknowledging the positive aspects of your life and expressing thanks for them.
  5.  Don’t be afraid to say “No”. Although “No” only has 2-letters, it might as well be a four-letter word for some.  At one point or another, we’ve all suffered from the “disease to please.” Saying yes when you want to say no often leads to feeling overwhelmed and sometimes resentful.  It can also do a disservice to yourself and the person making the request. It is important to note that by saying no to that coworker or neighbor means that you are saying yes to other things that you truly value, an afternoon with a loved one, or just time alone re-charging.
  6. Be compassionate with yourself. What ever your resolutions are for the New Year, remember to be kind to yourself. Tackling a new challenge is not always easy. The road to progress is pebbled with ups and downs and frequent setbacks. Setting extremely high or unrealistic expectations for yourself increases the likelihood that you may not meet them, which can reinforce feelings of shame or self-doubt. Don't beat yourself up! The key to optimizing efforts toward any goal is to remain persistent, recognize your accomplishments-no matter how small, and to be patient with yourself.


As the holidays draw to an end and the New Year quickly approaches, which mental health and wellness strategy will you begin?

Provata Health Launches Groundbreaking Virtual Reality Guided Meditation App

PORTLAND, Ore. (November 22, 2016) -- Leading digital health company Provata Health announced the launch of Provata VR, a virtual reality (VR) guided meditation app available on the App Store. The app signifies the Portland startup’s aim to pioneer a new category of digital health: Virtual Reality Preventive Care.

With Provata VR, users escape to a variety of stunning locations around the world, including tropical waterfalls, secluded beaches, dazzling Northern Lights and even underwater coral reefs. Selecting from a collection of guided meditation exercises, users train their mind to positively impact their productivity and mood in immersive, idyllic settings.

The app also introduces meditation biofeedback, a patent-pending system that leverages advances in physiological monitoring to enhance the meditation experience. Users can sync popular wearable devices, such as Apple Watch, to visualize the effects of their meditation sessions on their heart rate. Through smart feedback, Provata VR helps users better understand which meditation exercises, locations, and times of day have the greatest impact on their heart rate.

“Virtual Reality presents an opportunity to expand digital health to new frontiers,” said Alex Goldberg, CEO of Provata Health. “The typical guided meditation approach—an audio recording instructing you how to meditate—hasn’t advanced much technologically in decades. Combining VR with mindfulness meditation and biofeedback monitoring lets users transport themselves to relaxing environments while seamlessly tracking their progress, bringing new dimensions to the meditation experience.”

As mindfulness meditation grows in popularity, scientific research reveals its benefits are widespread, including increased productivity, lower stress, as well as improved focus, cognitive skills and memory. The effects extend to physiological measures as studies indicate that meditation can help to lower risk of strokes and heart attacks. Studies suggest mindfulness meditation may even alleviate chronic pain by activating brain regions associated with pain control.

Provata Health provides the first commercial digital health program proven to improve both the physical and mental health of participants in a peer-reviewed medical journal. “Given the mounting evidence of the positive effects of meditation on our mental and physical health, Provata VR truly embodies our emphasis on providing holistic digital health solutions that address our total health,” Goldberg explained.

Currently the fastest-growing private tech and healthcare company in Oregon, Provata Health partners with employers, health plans, and hospital systems to provide evidence-based programs proven to improve the health of employees and lower medical costs. Provata VR marks the company’s first product available to both employers and consumers alike.

Anyone can download the app for free and upgrade to the premium version, which will be available at no cost to employees participating in Provata digital health programs through their employer or health plan.

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Alicia Bell - Fitness Model


The clocks “fall back” November 6, 2016 which means that there will be less day lightMany people chalk up feeling blue in winter as simply a fact of cold weather and lack of sunshine. But 4 to 6 percent of people may have a winter depression which is clinically referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Another 10 to 20 percent may have mild SAD. SAD is four times more common in women than in men. Although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn't start in people younger than age 20. Your chance of getting SAD goes down as you get older. SAD is also more common the farther north you go. For example, it's seven times more common in Washington State than in Florida. Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a neuro-Psychologist in NYC (Manhattan and Forest Hills, Queens), and treats patients in her practice who display and express mood changes once October rolls around.


Dr. Hafeez explains that, “In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.”

The following are symptoms to look for to see if you are suffering from SAD





Loss of energy

Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs

Social withdrawal


Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed

Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates

Weight gain

Difficulty concentrating


How is SAD treated?

Many people with SAD will find that their symptoms respond to a very specific treatment called bright light therapy. For people who are not severely depressed and are unable—or unwilling—to use antidepressant medications, light therapy may be the best initial treatment option says Dr. Hafeez.

Light therapy consists of regular, daily exposure to a “light box,” which artificially simulates high-intensity sunlight. Practically, this means that a person will spend approximately 30 minutes sitting in front of this device shortly after they awaken in the morning. If patients do not improve, a second exposure of 20-30 minutes may be added in the early afternoon.  Treatment usually continues from the time of year that a person’s symptoms begin, such as in fall, on a daily basis throughout the winter months. Because light boxes are created to provide a specific type of light, they are expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Unfortunately, having lots of lamps in one’s house and spending extra time outside is not as effective as this more expensive treatment.

Dr. Hafeez states that, “Side effects of light therapy are uncommon and usually reversible when the intensity of light therapy is decreased. The most commonly experienced side effects include irritability, eyestrain, headaches, nausea and fatigue.”

Scientific studies have shown light therapy to be very effective when compared to placebo and as effective as antidepressants in many cases of non-severe SAD. Light therapy may also work faster than antidepressants for some people with notable effects beginning with in a few days of starting treatment. Other people may find that it takes a few weeks for light therapy to work, which can also be the case for most people who take antidepressant medications. Although not explicitly recommended, some people may elect for treatment with both light therapy and antidepressant medications.  The combination of these treatments may be synergistic and a more robust way to address the symptoms of SAD.

In her practice Dr. Hafeez has found that antidepressant medications have been useful in treating people with SAD. Of the antidepressants, fluoxetine (Prozac) and bupropion (Wellbutrin) have been studied in the treatment of SAD and shown to be effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved these medications for treatment of major depressive disorder.  Dr. Hafeez cautions that, “Any person considering treatment with an antidepressant medication should discuss the benefits and risks of treatment with their doctors.”

Individuals with a predisposition to bipolar disorder should be more cautious in approaching treatment for SAD and depression in general. Light therapy, like antidepressant therapy has been associated with increased risk of experiencing a manic episode. The specifics of this are beyond the scope of this review and again, should be discussed with one’s doctors.

Finally, a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a good diet and a strong social network, is also likely to help you cope with SAD.


Sanam Hafeez Psy.D

New York State Licensed Neuropsychologist and School Psychologist



Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a New York City based Neuropsychologist and School Psychologist.  She is also the founder and director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C.  She is currently a teaching faculty member at Columbia University.


Dr. Hafeez graduated from Queens College, CUNY with a BA in psychology.  She then went on to earn her Master of Science in Psychology at Hofstra University.  Following that she stayed at Hofstra to receive her Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) She later completed her post-doctoral training in Neuropsychology and Developmental Pediatrics at Coney Island Hospital.


Dr. Hafeez’s provides neuropsychological educational and developmental evaluations in her practice.  She also works with children and adults who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), learning disabilities, autism, attention and memory problems, trauma and brain injury, abuse, childhood development and psychopathology (bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc…) In addition, Dr. Hafeez serves as a medical expert and expert witness by providing full evaluations and witness testimony to law firms and courts.


Dr. Hafeez immigrated to the United States from Pakistan when she was twelve years old.  She is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi (Pakistani and Indian languages.) She resides in Queens, New York with her husband and twin boys.