Past Event: Mental Health Summit Vancouver

December 13, 2016
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Welcome to the official website for the 2016 Mental Health Summit, Vancouver. This half-day conference will feature practical content for plan sponsors interested in imporving the mental health of their workforce.

The theme of this year's conference is-

The Elephant in the Workplace: Tackling Mental Health Challenges

You may not always be able to see mental health in your employees, but you can see the results in your workplace. Did you know that approximately 30 per cent of short and long term disability claims are due to mental health issues? As well, mental health issues account for over $6 billion in productivity costs. What causes and exacerbates mental health issues, how can you recognize when an employee is having difficulties and how can you help?

At the 2016 Mental Health Summits, experts will provide insight into mental health issues in a work environment and provide actionable takeaways for how to address these issues and create a mentally healthy and productive workplace.


Price: $129 + TAX


For information on the speakers, please contact Lauren Harris, Conference Editor, Benefits Canada

For information on the speakers, please contact Joanne Boccia, Event Manager.

Join the conversation on Twitter: #mentalhealth16 @BenCanMag

Mental Health Summit Vancouver

December 13, 2016
Fairmont Hotel, Vancouver

7:20 - 8:10 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast

8:10 - 8:15 a.m.
Benefits Canada Opening Remarks

8:15 - 8:45 a.m.
Connections: Linking Financial and Physical Wellness to Mental Health

Financial stress is a driver of mental health challenges. In fact, the stress that employees may feel from personal financial issues can significantly impact both mental and physical health. The Sun Life Canadian Health Index cites top drivers of excessive stress among Canadians are related to finances. Learn about the dynamics of this issue, such as how financial stress may affect different groups in the workforce and whether they differ based on generation or economic contexts. You'll hear how targeted programs and overall mental health strategies in the workplace can mean positive change for employees.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier, assistant vice-president, workplace mental health, integrated health solutions, Sun Life Financial

[Download the Presentation]

8:45 - 9:15 a.m.
An elephant and an insurer walk into a room…

Managers and employees aren’t talking enough about mental health in the workplace. But insurers ARE having that conversation with employees who are on leave because of mental health issues. Ray Parker will share valuable insights on how to handle mental health issues, and give concrete examples of what employers can do to help eliminate the stigma.

Ray Parker, director, group disability and rehabilitation, Desjardins Insurance

[Download the Presentation]

9:15 - 9:45 a.m.
Personalized Medicine and Antidepressants: Promises, Perils and Pitfalls

Antidepressants are effective treatments, but selecting an antidepressant for an individual patient is currently based on trial and error. Plan sponsors will learn that many researchers are attempting to discover biomarkers (biological tests) to guide antidepressant selection, including blood tests for genetic differences in drug metabolism (pharmacogenetics). The evidence shows that biomarkers for antidepressant response, while promising, are not yet ready for "prime time" clinical use.

Dr. Raymond W. Lam, professor of psychiatry, University of British Columbia
(participation made possible by Lundbeck)

[Download the Presentation]

9:45 - 10:05 a.m.
Networking Break

10:05 - 10:50 a.m.
The Medicalization of Unhappiness

Peter Gove, GSC’s Health Innovation Leader, examines the past few decades and zeroes in on the changing medical and social landscape that has led to the proliferation of mental health diagnoses and the widespread prescribing of anti-depressants. Have normal, expected bouts of sadness become “medicalized”? And are we in turn medicating large portions of the population - young, middle-aged, and old - that could be better served by other strategies for care? Last, given this new environment, what is the implication for organizations aiming to create impactful strategies to manage mental health in their workplaces?

Peter Gove, health innovation leader, Green Shield Canada

[This presentation is not available for download]

10:50 - 11:40 a.m.
Expert Panel: Supporting Employees with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder can happen to anyone, whether the affected employees are first responders and encounter emergencies daily or have experienced distressing situations in their personal or work lives. Being exposed to trauma can trigger reactions that may affect employees' daily lives and interfere with their ability to remain active and productive members of the workforce. In this session, join us as a panel of experts outline what PTSD is, what can trigger it, how it can manifest in the workforce and how you can provide your employees with the support they need to cope. The panel will also dig into peer support and how it can have broader applicability beyond PTSD.

Paul Bruce,
fire chief, Victoria Fire Department
Rob Clarke,
RCMP officer and former member of parliament
Stacey Ferland,
national practice lead, trauma services, Homewood Health
Debbie JoustraPel,
manager, occupational health, Coast Mountain Bus Company

[Download the Presentation]

11:40 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.
Mental Fitness & Resiliency Building Blocks: A Proactive and preventative Approach to Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing

The mind, like the body, responds to training. In this session, learn how mental fitness and proactive strategies to build resiliency can better help your employees handle life’s ever changing conditions and challenges. Mental fitness is an area of training that is often overlooked and under-valued. Join us as Sara Wegwitz, a mental fitness and performance coach, teaches the building blocks to help your employees thrive and flourish. Paul Bruce, fire chief for the Victoria Fire Department, will also share a case study example of how he uses mental fitness in the workplace with his employees during this session. As providers of emergency services, it is accepted that members of the Victoria Fire Department are responsible for providing first responder services to a multitude of serious and dangerous situations. As an employer, the fire department cannot control the scheduling of emergency experiences or the potential for physical or psychological injuries to its members. Bruce will share insights into how he uses peer supported Critical Incident Stress Debriefing sessions and other strategies to help employees prepare themselves for the potential psychological processing associated with exposure to these extraordinary events.

Paul Bruce, fire chief, Victoria Fire Department
Sara Wegwitz, registered nurse and mental fitness and performance coach

[Download the Presentation]

12:25 p.m.
Closing Remarks

For more information regarding the agenda, please contact Lauren Harris, Conference Editor, Benefits Canada

Mental Health Summit Vancouver



Paul Bruce

Paul Bruce
Paul Bruce is the fire Chief for the City of Victoria. He has been a member of the Fire Department since 1993 and previously served as a firefighter with the Department of National Defence at CFB Esquimalt. In over 28 years of service, Chief Bruce has worked through the ranks of the department and attended many educational sessions on firefighter Health & Safety, including introduction and implementation of a peer supported "Critical Incident Stress Debriefing" (CISD) group, adopting the "Mitchell" model as a form of fundamental psychological first aid for members following a threatening or overwhelming traumatic experience. Through his role with the IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) and presently, the focus on firefighter wellness remains paramount as a theme of leadership and personal accountability.


Rob Clarke

Rob Clarke

Rob Clarke is an RCMP officer and former member of parliament. Clarke is a member of the Muskeg Lake First Nation and grew up in the community of Quesnel, British Columbia. He served as vice-president of the student association at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, British Columbia, while he completed two years of post-secondary education. Clarke was first elected to the House of Commons in a by-election on March 17, 2008. Clarke, an 18-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has extensive policing experience pertaining to First Nation communities. He has had seven postings in his career, all within the province of Saskatchewan, having served the communities of Indian Head, Sandy Lake First Nation, Red Earth First Nation, Onion Lake First Nation, Rosthern, Ile a la Crosse, Spiritwood and Warman. Clarke had attained the rank of Sergeant within the force and was the member in charge at his last two postings. He has been recognized during his policing career, having received the Saskatchewan Council of Senior Federal Officials Volunteer of the Year Award in 2001, the Commanding Officer’s Certificate of Appreciation Award, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Commendation Medal and RCMP Commissioners Commendation for Bravery in the 2006 shootings in Spiritwood. Clarke has participated on various community boards including: Victim Services, Restorative Justice, Interagency, Police Management Boards as well as being a regular Legion member for over 20 years. An active member in the communities that he has resided in, he has volunteered his time to coach minor hockey, soccer, baseball, and to referee hockey. In 2014 Rob also partnered with TEMA, and has publicly been speaking with parliamentarians and community groups about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.


Stacey Ferland

Stacey Ferland

Stacey Ferland is the national practice lead of trauma services at Homewood Health. She is also a nationally certified traumatologist, registered clinical counsellor and master practitioner in clinical counselling with the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association (CPCA).  She is an accredited clinical supervisor with CPCA and holds a master’s degree in Christian psychology, specializing in complex trauma. Ferland specializes in the treatment of adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is passionate about treating first responders and uniformed workers with operational stress and PTSD. She has extensive experience delivering individual and group psychotherapy utilizing evidence-based treatments in order to help emotional distress and suffering. She specializes in trauma assessment and treatment, stress and anxiety management, depression and moral injury and has provided training and presentations provincially and nationally on PTSD and the importance of stabilization in trauma treatment. Ferland is trained in CBT (Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy); EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing); PE (Prolonged Exposure); ART (Accelerated Resolution Therapy) and VRE (Virtual Reality Exposure). In addition, she has also completed intensive and advanced training in DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy).

John Gerbrecht 

John Gerbrecht

John Gerbrecht is director major accounts, group business at Pacific Blue Cross. In this position, he leads the major accounts and group client support teams to deliver the highest standards of service excellence and value. Gerbrecht holds a bachelor of arts in commerce from the University of British Columbia and has more than 27 years of experience in employee benefits gained at major Canadian health and financial services brands. He is a seasoned leader and brings a wealth of knowledge in customizing benefits solutions for plan sponsors from all sectors.


Peter Gove

Peter Gove

Peter Gove is innovation leader, health management with Green Shield Canada (GSC). He has oversight for initiatives under GSC's Change4Life banner. Prior to coming to GSC, Gove was responsible for the national disability management and life insurance claims program for a large Canadian life insurance company. Gove has a master's degree in social work and is a registered social worker. Continuing his education, he started a PhD program in Applied Health Science at the University of Waterloo. He has presented internationally in the areas of health management and disability management and was the recipient of the 2014 Vision and Values Award presented by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.


Dr. Raymond W. Lam

Dr. Raymond W. Lam

Dr. Raymond W. Lam is professor of psychiatry with the University of British Columbia and medical director of the Mood Disorders Centre at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health in Vancouver. He is also the executive chair of the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments and a lead investigator in the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression.




Marie-Helene Pelletier

Ross McSkimming

Marie-Helene Pelletier is assistant vice-president, workplace mental health, integrated health solutions with Sun Life Financial. Throughout her 15 years in business management and psychology, Dr. Pelletier has spearheaded a national dialogue on the crucial issue of workplace health. Her work continues to this day. As assistant vice-president Workplace Mental Health at Sun Life Financial, she oversees the organization's mental health strategy for its Canadian group clients. She also oversees the financial health pillar of the company’s Integrated Health Solutions mandate. She holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from UBC and an MBA from the UBC Sauder School of Business. With her unique background in both psychology and business, she continues to evolve business and human resources strategies to critical new areas – most recently to the integration of financial, physical and mental health.



Ray Parker

Ray Parker

Ray Parker is director of group disability and rehabilitation with Desjardins Insurance. He has over 16 years of experience in the group insurance and government insurance sector. He joined Desjardins Insurance in 2008 and is currently the Director of Group Disability and Rehabilitation for Western Canada. Parker holds a Bachelor in Social Work from the University of Manitoba and an Masters in SW from the University of Calgary.





Sara Wegwitz

Sara Wegewitz
Sara Wegwitz is a registered nurse with a niche in mental fitness and performance coaching. In the most simplistic way, think of her as a personal trainer for the mind. She specializes in helping individuals and groups build confidence and transform the way that they think through "bite-sized" training experiences. She brings over 20 years of experience and education in the fields of health sciences, leadership, and behaviour change. She is the founder of Tailor Making Health and the creator of the popular series Mental Fitness Boot-camp, Mental Fitness Master Class, and Mental Fitness Boot-camp for Athletes. What distinguishes Wegwitz's approach is that she has the ability to take complex biology and academic theory and map it across to "street level know how" practices that are pragmatic and sustainable for individuals and teams of people. Her action-oriented and solutions-focused training sessions (private and group) have successfully yielded her clients results. Some of these results include a 40 per cent reduction in sick and overtime costs; gold medals at athletic World Championships; overcoming anxiety; and enhancing workplace cultures, and increasing performance and productivity of teams. She has a demonstrated and proven track record working with first responders, entrepreneurs, athletes and athletic teams, and leaders in corporate organizations, government, and non-profit sectors.


For more information on the speakers, please contact Lauren Harris, Conference Editor, Benefits Canada



Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

900 West Georgia Street
British Columbia, Canada
V6C 2W6

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is known as the 'Castle in the City’ and reflects timeless luxury and history of the city. Holding a prime downtown location, steps from Vancouver shopping, dining and entertainment, it is the perfect place to enjoy Vancouver's vibrant atmosphere. Guests will feel at home as our canine ambassadors welcome them and our knowledgeable Concierge team is here to help with local travel suggestions.

For more information on the hotel, contact Joanne Boccia, Event Manager.