Past Event: Mental Health Summit Toronto

November 12, 2018
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Toronto

The 2018 Mental Health Summit, Toronto

Put mental health to work: Challenges and choices for a safe space
One in five people will experience mental illness in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Yet, employees are often hesitant to come forward with their own struggles. How can the stigma surrounding mental illness be removed from the workplace? What can employers do to help facilitate a smooth, comfortable return-to-work transition? Come to this year’s Mental Health Summit to discover ideas on how to approach mental health in the workplace.

The Mental Health Summit will cost $159 plus tax to attend.

Who Should Attend?

Employers responsible for benefits plans and workplace health; brokers/advisors and benefits consultants.

Looking for the Vancouver Mental Health Summit?




Francesca Allman

Sara Ametrano
Emma Ramsey

Join the conversation! @BenCanMag #MentalHealth18


Mental Health Summit, Toronto

November 12, 2018
Ritz-Carlton Hotel

7:15 - 8:10 a.m.
Breakfast and registration

8:10 - 8:15 a.m.
Opening remarks

8:15 - 8:45 a.m.
Session one
No and low: Cost accommodations for a productive workplace that attracts and retains the best

Labour shortages in Canada are projected to reach close to 2 million workers by 2031, costing the Canadian economy billions in lost GDP annually. Additionally, rising rates of absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover are now requiring employers to use innovative ways to recruit and retain a qualified labour force. Promoting and protecting mental health of employees can impact an employer's bottom line, culture, productivity and overall competitiveness in the market. In this session, participants will learn about the types of low or no-cost accommodations that employers can easily implement in their workplace to bring forward practical approaches for employers to safely and effectively hire and retain people living with a mental illness. Findings and experiences of real-life case studies will be shared that highlight the use of specific frameworks (such as the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace), training programs (such as Mental Health First Aid and The Working Mind) and accommodation practices employers can use in their workplaces.

Nitika Rewari, manager, workplace mental health, Mental Health Commission of Canada

[Download Nitika's Presentation]

8:45 - 9:15 a.m.
Session two
Tackling depression: A closer look at biomarker discovery and new technologies

Depression affects one in every five Canadians and leads to significant personal, societal and economic costs. This presentation will review the current state-of-the science for the management of this disabling condition, and ongoing efforts to identify biomarkers, including the role of personalized genetic testing, for treatment response and sustained wellness. 

Dr. Claudio Soares,
professor and chair, department of psychiatry, Queen's University School of Medicine, and executive lead, Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression, St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto

This session has been made possible by Lundbeck Canada

[Download Dr. Soares's Presentation]

9:15 - 9:45 a.m.
Session three
Innovations in mental health: How technology is improving care
Mental health is now the leading cause of long term disability in Canada, and employers and health care partners are responding with novel solutions to prevention and treatment. Online therapies and pharmacogenetics are some the innovations in mental health care that are showing promising results. 

Rebecca Smith, director, group life and disability services, Medavie Blue Cross

[Download Rebecca's Presentation]

9:45 - 10:15 a.m.
Networking break

10:15 - 10:45 a.m.
Session four
Digital treatments: What works and why?

One of the most exciting outcomes linked to improving accessibility to gold-standard digital treatments through the workplace is their potential to prevent the development of new conditions, including physical health problems. Early recovery offers enormous savings to employers through reduction of days lost to illness, increases in productivity whilst at work, and the prevention of physical health problems associated with mental ill health. Evidence-based digital treatments are easily accessible and in many cases as effective as face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy. This talk will present the results of the most rigorous randomised controlled trials evaluating disorder-specific and transdiagnostic digital CBT and identify characteristics of digital treatments associated with greatest recovery. I will also present data demonstrating the efficacy of a transdiagnostic digital approach to the prevention of depression. The talk will answer hard-hitting questions: is efficacy influenced by cost of support? That is, are digital treatments supported by a coach as effective as delivery by a highly trained and costly therapist? Are standalone digital treatments as effective as supported treatments? Are supported treatments better for some disorders than others, which ones? When is a transdiagnostic versus a disorder-specific approach indicated?

Jennifer Wild, consultant clinical psychologist and associate professor, University of Oxford

This session has been made possible by Shoppers Drug Mart

[Download Jennifer's Presentation]

10:45 - 11:15 a.m.
Session five
Applying learnings from psychological treatment programs across the globe to a digital solution

Both England and Australia have implemented and measured robust and broad-reaching programs that provide evidence-based psychological treatment as a first-line intervention, with goals to reduce overall healthcare costs and overall suffering within their populations. In this session, participants will gain understanding of best practices and learnings from these programs that are relevant to employers seeking effective mental health solutions that meaningfully contribute to an engaged workforce. The presenters will describe a compelling case for purposeful implementation of digital innovation – therapist-assisted digitally-delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TAiCBT) – to capitalize on these learnings to measurably drive reach, cost-savings and successful outcomes all in tandem.

Claire Duboc,
managing director, CBT Associates & BEACON
Peter Farvolden,
 clinical lead, CBT Associates & BEACON

[Download Claire and Peter's Presentation]

11:15 - 11:45 a.m.
Session six
Innovative approaches to help employees return to health and work sooner
For employees receiving disability benefits, there are innovative treatments to help get them back to work sooner. This session will highlight details around four programs designed to explore early and personalized treatment options for these types of employees. A focus will be on the benefits for organizations and why they should consider supporting these types of treatments.

Michelle Harper, director, national best practices, wellness, disability and life, Manulife
Adelaine Thomas, mental health specialist, national best practices team, Manulife

[Download Michelle and Adelaine's Presentation]

11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Session seven
Ethical dilemmas and other lessons learned: Web-based interventions for mental health
Delivering mental health services using distance and web-based technologies has become very popular and for many good reasons, including convenience, reach and decreased cost. However, it is important that we carefully consider the research evidence about how to increase the benefits and decrease the limitations of these modalities. The objective of this presentation is to help attendees understand the evidence regarding key ingredients of successful distance-delivered programs. The session will review literature on the use of distance technologies in mental health. It will highlight the ingredients for successful programs, including the pros and cons of synchronous and asynchronous delivery. Challenges and lessons learned from a research program on professionally facilitated, text-based chat groups, as well as a facilitated health promotion intervention for young couples affected by breast cancer will be discussed. The presentation will also cover who is not a good candidate for distance delivered care, as well as how to manage the ethical dilemmas that are unique to these modalities.

Deborah McLeod, director, Your Wellness Partner program, CAREpath

[Download Deborah's Presentation]

12:15 p.m.
Closing remarks

Note: This agenda is a draft and is subject to change.

Mental Health Summit, Toronto CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

November 12, 2018
Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Claire Duboc

Claire Duboc

Claire Duboc is the managing director at CBT Associates & BEACON. She facilitated the evolution of CBT Associates from a single traditional psychology clinic in early 2015, into a network of best-in-class clinics providing evidence-based treatment throughout the GTA. Through her work with major employers and insurers, she helped identify gaps in private mental health care and led the redirection of CBT Associates to a stepped-care model. Duboc has been instrumental in the development of BEACON, a digital mental health treatment platform that provides Cognitive Behavioural Therapy digitally with the integral support of a regulated mental health professional. BEACON provides evidence-based mental health treatment at a dramatically reduced cost, and in a way that is accessible anytime, anywhere. Duboc’s career began at P&G, and she subsequently held various roles at Catalina Marketing and Loyalty Group. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for The Hospital for Sick Children and is vice-chair for Toronto Foundation and was previously on Wilfrid Laurier University & SickKids Foundation.


Peter Farvolden

Peter Farvolden

Peter Farvolden is the clinical lead at CBT Associates & BEACON. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Waterloo, where he received his initial training in the scientist-practitioner model and evidence-based treatment. Farvolden has led in the roles of researcher, clinician and administrator across multiple settings, including the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre, University Health Network (UHN) and The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). He holds university appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the Departments of Psychology at the University of Waterloo and Ryerson University. In his research, Farvolden has focused on basic processes in personality and psychopathology, as well as the evidence-based treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Passionate about making evidence-based treatment broadly accessible, Farvolden oversees the development and delivery of BEACON from a clinical perspective, ensuring this innovative modality of treatment provides successful clinical outcomes.


Michelle Harper

Michelle Harper

Michelle Harper is the director of national best practices for wellness, disability and life at Manulife.
Harper leads the national best practices team, which is responsible for training and development, the audit program, legislative changes, national work facilitation specialists and the organization's national mental health specialist team. In this role, she utilizes her extensive work experience in many aspects of disability management gained from her 20+ year career with Manulife.

Previously, Harper was a director in Manulife's disability operations, where she was responsible for Toronto teams of front-line disability claims staff. She provided support in the areas of training and development, quality assurance and audit/fraud management. Harper also supported many of the organization's corporate clients as a disability management consultant for many years, as well as holding supervisory and case management roles within the organization.


Deborah McLeod

Deborah McLeod

Deborah McLeod is the director of CAREpath's Your Wellness Partner program. She is a clinician scientist and psychosocial oncologist, and holds appointments with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, as well as university appointments with Dalhousie and the University of Calgary. She is a senior scientist with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute. McLeod has practiced as a psychotherapist, researcher and educator in mental health for more than 30 years. Her research has focused on using distance and web-based technologies for the delivery of mental health services to individuals and couples living with cancer and mental health problems. McLeod also has an extensive background in web-based interprofessional education, leading a national Health Canada-funded project to increase health professional education in psychosocial oncology for more than 12 years. She co-authored a series of national clinical practice standards for managing cancer-related anxiety/depression and fatigue and recently completed a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded study focused on brief interventions for mild to moderate distress in the context of cancer-related fatigue, pain, depression and anxiety. McLeod is a past-president of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology and a recipient of their Award of Excellence for education.


Nitika Rewari

Nitika Rewari

Nitika Rewari is a manager in the area of workplace mental health, research, evaluation and knowledge translation at the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). Rewari's role allows her to oversee research, evaluation and knowledge translation activities related to building evidence and disseminating knowledge of effective strategies in the workplace to address mental health. She also works to eliminate barriers to employment for individuals with mental illness. One of the key roles Rewari played at MHCC was to lead a three year national study (2014 – 2017) where the Commission followed more than 40 organizations across Canada to identify promising practices related to the implementation of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. She is also currently involved in the development of a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in Paramedic Workplaces and a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety of Post-Secondary Students.

Rewari has worked in all sectors over the years and brings to workplace mental health an integrated, collaborative and transformative approach that would allow employers and employees to achieve common goals and evaluate success. She is an active member of Project Management Institute and Canadian Evaluation Society, and she has a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree.


Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith brings more than 25 years of disability management experience and progressive leadership to her role as the director of group life and disability services at Medavie Blue Cross. In this senior management position, she is responsible for a number of disciplines, including rehabilitation services, new business onboarding, sales support and business analysis. Smith draws on an extensive background in claims management, quality assurance and training. She began her career as a claims assessor for the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, gradually working her way up to top management posts with leading insurance carriers in Ontario. Before Smith joined Medavie Blue Cross in 2010, she was the director of group disability claims for another major insurer.


Dr. Claudio N. Soares

Dr. Claudio Soares

Dr. Claudio Soares is a professor and head of the department of psychiatry at Queen's University School of Medicine, and the executive lead of strategy, new partnerships and mHealth) for the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND). He is a trained psychiatrist from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, where he earned his medical degree and completed his doctorate work on estrogen effects for the management of depression in midlife women. He further pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where he later served as an assistant professor of psychiatry. Dr. Soares relocated to Canada in 2004, where he worked at McMaster University for eight years before being recruited by Queen’s University.

Dr. Soares’ research interests include effective treatments for mood and anxiety disorders across the female life cycle, with particular emphasis on midlife women and the menopausal transition. Most recently, his research has focused on the use of mobile health technologies (mHealth) and the concept of digital phenotyping for a better understanding of sustained wellness, resilience and relapse in depression.

He is a sought-after educator with more than 170 presentations at national and international meetings. He has written extensively in the areas of mood disorders and women’s mental health, with more than 200 publications, including articles in the Archives of General Psychiatry (JAMA Psychiatry), Menopause, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and American Journal of Psychiatry, to name a few. He is also a recipient of numerous grants and awards, including Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Ontario Research Fund grants, as well as three National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders awards from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.


Adelaine Thomas

Adelaine Thomas

Adelaine Thomas serves as a mental health specialist on Manulife's national best practices team. She joined the organization in 2009 as a case manager and is also a registered psychotherapist in Ontario. In her current role, Thomas is responsible for the guidance and coaching of case managers on mental health claims according to best practice standards.

Thomas' training and career focus has been on the psychosocial and vocational impact of disabilities and chronic illness. She obtained her master’s degree in counselling psychology with a specialization in vocational rehabilitation from the University of British Columbia. She is also an alumnus of the York-Seneca Rehabilitation Program, with an honours bachelor’s degree in psychology and a certificate in rehabilitation services. Thomas has over 10 years of experience working with a wide range of disabilities in both public and private sectors. In addition to her work at Manulife, she is also in private practice providing individual counselling for a multitude of issues including mood and anxiety disorders.


Jennifer Wild

Jennifer Wild

Jennifer Wild is a consultant clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Oxford. Her area of expertise is in developing treatments that work for anxiety and stress disorders and evaluating their efficacy. Wild is passionate about improving accessibility to treatments for common mental health problems, and to this end, has co-developed digital interventions for post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder. She has worked in an advisory role to the Cabinet Office in the UK on best practice for developing preventative interventions for at-risk populations. She is funded by MQ and Mind to develop and evaluate digital interventions to prevent the development of PTSD and depression in emergency workers. Wild regularly appears in the media giving expert advice on mental health problems. The documentary, Vertigo Road Trip, in which she treats five people with severe height anxiety, aired recently on BBC One, attracting 2.2 million viewers



More information to be posted shortly.

For information on the speakers, please contact Sara Ametrano, Conference Editor, Benefits Canada

Event Location

The 2018 Mental Health Summit, Toronto, will take place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Toronto, set in the heart of downtown.

Visit the Ritz Carlton website for more information


181 Wellington Street West
Toronto, ON, M5V 3G7

Ritz Carlton Hotel


With further inquiries about event logistics, please contact Kristy Davidson, event manager.