Past Event: Toronto Mental Health Summit

November 29, 2019
Sheraton Centre, Toronto

2019 Toronto Mental Health Summit

Read coverage from the event

According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, by the time Canadians are 40 years of age, one in two have – or have had – a mental illness.

CAMH has also attributed mental health as the leading cause of disability in Canada. So, why are employees often still hesitant to come forward with personal struggles?

Toronto’s 2019 Mental Health Summit will discover new ideas on how to approach mental health in the workplace – including how to remove the stigma of mental illness and what plan sponsors can do to facilitate positive return-to-work transitions.

This full-day event will serve breakfast and lunch; it will end at 3 p.m.

How much does it cost?
$179 plus tax.

Should I attend?
If you’re an employer responsible for your organization’s drug plan, benefits, wellness, human resources and/or corporate health – or a broker, benefits consultant, group insurer or advisor – then this summit is where you want to be.

Continuing education (CE) credits will be offered at this event.

Looking for the Vancouver Mental Health Summit?




Francesca Allman

Cassandra Williamson-Hopp
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Toronto Mental Health Summit

November 29, 2019
Sheraton Centre, Toronto

Please note: this agenda is subject to change.

7:30 – 8:20 AM

8:20 – 8:25 AM

8:25 – 8:55 AM
Workplace 2020: Looking forward at mental-health return to work
As we leave 2019 behind, it’s clear that a significant evolution of workplace mental health has taken place over the past 10 years. What does this mean for 2020 and beyond? This session will look at some of the most significant changes affecting how we look at mental health and workplace accommodations.

Dr. Sam Mikail, psychologist and senior consultant, mental health, Sun Life Financial

[Download Dr. Mikail's Presentation.]

8:55 – 9:25 AM 
Mental-health access and innovation 
An increasing number of employees struggle with mental-health issues and our Canadian health-care system is buckling under the pressure. What can employers do to help mitigate the cost and risks associated with poor mental functioning? This session will present an update on mental health, research findings and a new product that connects the workplace to resources, training, therapy, assessments and psychiatry.  

Judith Plotkin, vice-president, strategic health solutions, People Corporation
Dr. Arash Zohoor, co-founder, Inkblot

[Download Judith & Dr. Zohoor's Presentation.]

9:25 – 9:55 AM
Finding the needle in the digital haystack: 10 key factors that determine digital therapy success
'Digital therapies for anxiety' entered into Google yields 67,300,000 results. For depression, it’s more than 80 million. With as many as one in five Canadians suffering from a mental-health condition each year, the sheer abundance of these search results may seem reassuring -- but also daunting. How do you know which digital therapies actually work? What characteristics make one more effective than another? This session will present the top 10 key success factors for digital therapies for anxiety and depression, including how they work, what client behaviours predict outcome and which features to look for in choosing a digital therapy for employees.

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

(This session has been made possible by Health Solutions by Shoppers Drugmart)

[Download Dr. Wild's Presentation.]

9:55 – 10:25 AM


10:25 – 10:55 AM
Workplace mental health in Canada: Towards a digital future
In this session, Dr. Sam Ozersky will weave together a review of the current state of workplace mental health in Canada. He will explore a variety of topics, including the economic impact of mental illness to Canadian employers; employee stigmatization; the importance of self care; the practical considerations associated with implementing digital interventions; and the impact that evidence-based mental-health assessments in the workplace can have on informing mental-health diagnoses and treatment.

Dr. Sam Ozersky, president and chief executive officer, FeelingBetterNow

[Download Dr.Ozersky's Presentation.]

10:55 – 11:25 AM
Cognitive behavioural therapy: What the heck is it, why is it so popular and what's with this e-therapy stuff?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is the subject of many recent articles relating to benefits plan design and disability management. In addition, a variety of digital therapy products are emerging in the marketplace. The problem is that few people outside the world of psychology and psychotherapy actually know what CBT is, let alone understand the digital versions of CBT. This session will describe how it works and how it differs from counselling. It will cover other evidence-based psychotherapies and the new digital models. Finally, this session will look at some of the challenges and controversies associated with both conventional and digital CBT.

Peter Gove, former innovation leader in health management, Green Shield Canada

[Download Peter's Presentation.]

11:25 – 11:55 AM
Minding the data: Harnessing the power of analytics to create value
Technology is transforming health benefits management, with advances in data analytics becoming a game changer for progressive organizations that embrace the potential. This session will draw on case studies to illustrate how Medavie's team is leveraging data analytics and insights to drive smart, strategic decisions around their product offerings related to mental health. Derek Weir will share how integrating claims data sets can provide organizations with a fuller picture of claiming patterns; how data visualization tools can help them better understand the data; and how insights can be applied to improve the design and management of benefits plans and support positive mental health for employees.

Derek Weir, manager, health benefit solutions, Medavie Blue Cross

[Download Derek's Presentation.]

11:55 AM – 12:55 PM


12:55 – 1:25 PM
Depression at work (and home): A journey through treatment resistance
In any given week, hundreds of thousands of employees are off work due to a mental-health problem or illness, with depression alone the single largest contributor to years lived with disability. In this session, Mark Henick will share his own journey with depression and help attendees better understand its impact on Canadians and employers, as well as what works and doesn’t work in supporting employee mental health.

Mark Henick, principal and chief executive officer, Strategic Mental Health Solutions

(This session has been made possible by Janssen)

[Session not available for download.]

1:25 – 1:55 PM 
Workplace solutions for mental-health action plan
At any given time, eight per cent of all Canadian workers are dealing with a mental-health issue. Each week, half a million people across the country miss work for reasons related to their mental health. If this isn’t a key concern for organizations, it should be. Addressing mental-health issues in the workplace will deliver measurable benefits, but where to start? This session will present three areas that can help organizations safeguard employees’ mental health. By doing so, plan sponsors can mitigate financial risk and help plan members reach their full potential as employees – a company’s greatest strength.

Gillian Wells, mental-health specialist, national disability best practices, Manulife

[Download Gillian's Presentation.]

1:55 – 2:25 PM
The impact of migraine on the individual and society
Migraine patients bear significant physical and emotional challenges and reductions in quality of life. Those with migraine have increased rates of depression, anxiety and suicide compared to healthy populations. Migraine interferes with relationships with family members, friends and colleagues – and affects people during the years when employment is most productive and family demands are highest. Join Dr. Giammarco while she discusses the burden of migraine and value of new treatments to plan members and plan sponsors.

Dr. Rose Giammarco, founder and director, Hamilton Headache Clinic

(This session has been made possible by Eli Lilly Canada Inc.)

[Download Dr. Giammarco's Presentation.]

2:25 – 2:55 PM 
How nutrition contributes to better mental health and organizational wellness
What we eat affects who we are on a day-to-day basis. And yet, among all the factors contributing to mental health and corporate wellness, nutrition may have the lowest profile. Research shows that when dietitians intervene with people with mental-health conditions and their care providers, the targeted intervention can reduce the nutrition-related side-effects of psychiatric medications, improve cognition, support better self-management of concurrent and co-morbid conditions and enhance overall occupational, social and psychological functioning. This session will look at educational content, policies and services in nutrition organizational leaders can implement to support the mental health of their people and help reduce mental-health claims.

Charmaine Alexander, senior advisor, disability management, Desjardins

[Download Charmaine's Presentation.]


2:55 – 3:00 PM

Toronto Mental Health Summit - Speakers

Toronto Mental Health Summit

November 29, 2019



Charmaine Alexander

Derek Weir

Charmaine Alexander is a senior advisor in disability management at Desjardins. She has more than 20 years of experience in group disability management, spanning a variety of industries and working for employers and insurance carriers. Within her client base, Alexander promotes a focus on prevention and challenges employer groups to encourage their employees to take charge of their health. She believes the future of group disability plans will require a collaborative approach between all stakeholders. As part of the best practice and innovation team, Alexander partners with several organizations within Desjardins’ portfolio of clients to deliver educational presentations to employers, employees and union leaders across Canada, with an aim to strengthen best practices in their management of disability claims. In July 2018, Alexander became the first insurer-sponsored mental-health first aid instructor certified by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. She continues to deliver this course to client organizations and their workforces. Alexander also holds a fellow in life and health claims from the International Claims Association. She also completed studies at York University and George Brown College.  

Dr. Rose Giammarco

Derek Weir

Dr. Rose Giammarco is a graduate of McMaster University medical school. She completed her training in neurology at the University of Toronto. She's an associate clinical professor with Hamilton Heath Sciences and holds a full-time staff position at St Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton. Dr. Giammarco is the founder and director of the Hamilton Headache Clinic. Her affiliations include director and secretary of the Canadian Headache Society. She presently is co-chair of the Neurology Residents National Headache Course. She's actively involved in the teaching of medical students, residents, family physicians and community neurologists in the field of headache medicine. Dr. Giammarco has authored and co-authored numerous publications in the field of headache medicine, in addition to participating in numerous headache research trials.

Peter Gove

Derek Weir

Peter Gove is a consultant and works with Green Shield Canada on initiatives under GSC’s Change4Life® banner. Change4Life is aimed at supporting Canadians to better manage their health. The initiative utilizes advanced analytics to proactively identify plan participants who are at risk of developing, or who have developed, a chronic disease and to reach out to them with focused programs. Gove has 25 years of experience in the group insurance industry, has a master’s degree in social work and is a registered social worker in Ontario.





Mark Henick

Derek Weir

With over five million views, Mark Henick’s TEDx talk "Why We Choose Suicide" is among the most watched in the world. His story of searching for “the man in the light brown jacket,” who saved his life from a teenage suicide attempt, captured global attention and when he learned of products being sold on Amazon that promoted suicide, his successful online petition to have them removed garnered tens of thousands of signatures. Henick has dedicated his life from an early age to opening minds and creating change. His talks are informed by his direct experience with stigma and the mental health-care system and he brings his diverse and unique perspective to every audience as someone who's been a patient, professional, policy influencer and public figure in the mental-health system. Henick's currently the principal and CEO of a boutique consulting firm that helps individuals, companies and governments move strategically from awareness to action in improving mental health and wellness. He was previously the national director of strategic initiatives for the Canadian Mental Health Association and served as the youngest president of a provincial CMHA division in history, the youngest-ever member of the board of directors for Canada’s Mental Health Commission and as a national spokesperson for the Faces of Mental Illness campaign. He's also worked as a front-line mental-health counsellor and as the manager of a national workplace mental-health training program. Henick's appeared in hundreds of television, radio, print and online media features on mental health. His work has been featured in such outlets as CTV National News, Entertainment Tonight, the Toronto Star, The New York Daily News, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post and Reader’s Digest. He's had bylines with CNN, The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette and the Chicago Tribune, among others. The worldwide rights to his first book have recently been acquired by HarperCollins, with an anticipated release in 2019. Mark holds a master's of science in child development; a bachelor of arts with interdisciplinary honours in psychology and philosophy; and has certificates in trauma counselling, suicide intervention, non-violent crisis intervention, mental-health first aid and knowledge exchange.


Dr. Sam Mikail

Derek Weir

Dr. Sam Mikail is a board-certified clinical psychologist and senior mental-health consultant with Sun Life Financial. In this role, Dr. Mikail provides consultation, mentoring, coaching and staff development within the group benefits division of Sun Life Financial. Over the course of his 30-year career, Dr. Mikail has been an active clinician, researcher, consultant and educator of health professionals. His clinical work and research have spanned the fields of mental health, health psychology, rehabilitation and spirituality. Dr. Mikail has an appointment as an adjunct clinical faculty member in the department of psychology at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Mikail's served on the boards of several professional associations and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Psychological Association, where he's held the post of chair of professional affairs -- and more recently, as current and past-president of CPA. He continues to maintain a part-time private practice in Newmarket, Ontario. 


Dr. Sam Ozersky

Derek Weir

Dr. Sam Ozersky is Mensante’s founder and chief executive officer. In 2008, the Canadian Association of Heath Informatics selected Dr. Ozersky as recipient of the 2008 Community-Based Physician Innovation Award for developing FeelingBetterNow®. The award was presented by the Canadian Medical Association. He’s the senior consultant at the Toronto Hospital Mood Disorders Clinic. Dr. Ozersky’s an expert in occupational psychiatry and has designed a mental-health disability management system for a Fortune "Top 10" company. He speaks and writes extensively about the critical relationship between mental health and the workplace. Dr. Ozersky recently co-wrote the Canadian chapter “Workplace Mental Health in Canada: Towards a Digital Future” in the book Mental Health in the Workplace: Strategies and Tools to Optimize Outcomes. The focus of his concern is developing information distribution systems that enable patients and physicians to benefit from state-of-the-art psychiatric expertise usually found in university psychiatry clinics.


Judith Plotkin

Derek Weir

Judith Plotkin is vice-president of strategic health solutions at People Corporation. Plotkin's a successful business developer with a passion for product development and strategic growth. She’s a mental-health professional with over 25 years’ experience in the health and wellness field. Plotkin's career has focused on employee assistance, disability management and other health-related employer sponsored programs. She frequently speaks and publishes on the topic of employee mental health and healthy workplaces. She holds a master's of social work from University of Toronto and a bachelor of arts in social work from Ryerson University. Plotkin recently completed her corporate director certificate at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and has served on a variety of industry boards, including serving as the immediate past-president of the Employee Assistance Society of North America. Plotkin's also been a field instructor for the University of Calgary’s masters of organizational social work program.


Derek Weir

Derek Weir

Derek Weir leads the development and management of all non-pharmacy products for Medavie Blue Cross' group business. He holds a masters of science degree in kinesiology and has worked in the areas of employee benefits, organizational health and disability management for more than 15 years. Before joining Medavie Blue Cross, he managed a private multi-disciplinary health centre.



Gillian Wells

Derek Weir

Gillian Wells is a registered social worker and has more than 15 years of counselling experience working in counselling agencies and her own private practice. Wells’ area of expertise is in workplace mental health, assisting clients facing various mental-health issues that often lead to disability such as trauma, depression, anxiety and stress and has delivered numerous presentations to large organizations on workplace mental health as well as EAP mental-health workshops. Wells has taught part time at the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Waterloo as well as Wilfred Laurier University and provides case supervision to psychotherapists in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Most importantly, Wells is a mental-health specialist on the national disability best practices at the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. In her role, she's delivered many client presentations at Manulife including to hospital groups and academic institutions. Wells is a frequent industry conference presenter including at Manulife’s one-day educational forum on best practices in disability management, Schedule Two Employers’ Group conference in Toronto, the Canadian Institute, Business Information in a Global Context, amongst others. In her presentations, she not only uncovers the layers of information behind current statistics on mental health, she’s able to engage audiences by transforming the information into best practices to address mental health in the workplace. 


Dr. Jennifer Wild

Derek Weir

Dr. 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. Dr. Wild's passionate about improving accessibility to treatments for common mental health problems. To this end, she has co-developed digital interventions for post-traumatic stress and social anxiety disorder. Dr. Wild has worked in an advisory role to the cabinet office in the UK on best practices for developing preventative interventions for at-risk populations. She's funded by MQ and Mind to develop and evaluate digital interventions to prevent the development of PTSD and depression in emergency workers. Dr. 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 on BBC One, attracting 2.2 million viewers. Her book Be Extraordinary: 7 Key Skills to Transform your Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary is out in Jan. 2020.


Dr. Arash Zohoor

Derek Weir

Dr. Arash Zohoor is the co-founder of Inkblot, a Canadian health technology company that creates innovative solutions for mental-health care and employee well-being. As well, he’s a practicing family and emergency physician. His clinical practice is focused on mental health, addictions and chronic pain and he’s a frequent guest lecturer on these topics across the country. Dr. Zohoor's a clinical professor at McMaster University and has held multiple health-care leadership roles. He's won numerous leadership awards including the Ontario College of Family Medicine Award of Excellence. Dr. Zohoor’s a graduate of the University of Toronto and studied medicine at Schulich School of Medicine in London, Ontario. He completed his residency training at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Event Location

The 2019 Mental Health Summit will take place at the Sheraton Centre, set in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Visit the Sheraton Centre Toronto website for more information


123 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON, M5H 2M9

Sheraton Centre Toronto