Past Event: Vancouver Mental Health Summit

December 12, 2019
Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver

2019 Vancouver 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?

Vancouver’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 half-day event will serve breakfast; it will end before lunch time.

How much does it cost?
$159 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 Toronto Mental Health Summit?




Francesca Allman

Cassandra Williamson-Hopp
Katerina Galkina

Join the conversation! @BenCanMag

Untitled Document

Vancouver Mental Health Summit

December 12, 2019
Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver

Please note: this agenda is subject to change.

7:30 – 8:25 AM

8:25 – 8:30 AM

8:30 – 9:00 AM
Workplace 2020: Looking forward at mental-health RTW
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.

Carmen Bellows, senior consultant, mental health, Sun Life

[Download Carmen's Presentation.]

9:00 – 9:30 AM 
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.

Nir Yahav, mental-health specialist, national disability best practices, Manulife

[Download Nir's Presentation.]

9:30 – 10:00 AM
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 rate 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. Dilli while she discusses the burden of migraine and value of new treatments to plan members and plan sponsors.

Dr. Esma Dilli, neurologist and clinical assistant professor, University of British Columbia

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

[Download Dr. Dilli's Presentation.]


10:00 – 10:30 AM


10:30 – 11:00 AM
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.]

11:00 – 11:30 AM
Tired, moody and unproductive! A summary of the interactions between insomnia, mental health and disability
This session will review interactions between mental health and insomnia – and help attendees understand the treatment landscape for insomnia and how it leads to poor employee productivity. It will also discuss implementable, cost-effective strategies that lessen the burden of disability caused by both mental health and insomnia.

Dr. Atul Khullar, medical director, Northern Alberta Sleep Clinic

(This session has been made possible by Merck)

[Download Dr. Khullar's Presentation.]

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Mental health in the workplace – how can employers really show up?
Through his own personal journey of 20 years in the total rewards profession – including his most recent role overseeing health and well-being at Vancity before starting his own consulting practice – Sean Raible will speak to why mental health matters on many levels and what companies can do to authentically ‘show up’ for their employees. This session will demonstrate how to link a larger diversity and inclusion strategy with the four pillars – awareness, learning, sponsorship and results-oriented program integration – for a successful, integrated mental-health program. The session will also aim to address both the organizational and individual sides of workplace mental-health issues.

Sean Raible, principal consultant, Game Plan Total Rewards

[Session not available for download.]

12:15 – 12:20 PM

Vancouver Mental Health Summit - Speakers

Vancouver Mental Health Summit

December 12, 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.  


Carmen Bellows

Derek Weir

As senior consultant, mental health with Sun Life Financial, Carmen is responsible for coaching and training the western regional disability management team. Her focus is to improve case management skills and understanding of mental illness in order to optimize duration. She is also instrumental in the integrated health solutions group in delivering training and support to plan sponsors in order to optimize their workplace mental health. This has a direct impact on the quality of support for disability claimants coping with mental illness and in turn, has a positive influence on workplace mental health. She is also a contributor to the mental health strategy at Sun Life and a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Psychological Association. Carmen is a registered psychologist and holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She has extensive experience in the field of psychology, including community and workplace mental health. Her clinical experience includes working with survivors of torture and newly arrived refugees, critical incident response, large employee and family assistance programs, outpatient psychiatry departments and private practice. Carmen prepares and delivers psycho-educational presentations on topics such as depression, caring for aged family members, dealing with difficult people in the workplace and she is a presenter of workshops on stress and resilience and other topics relevant to workplace mental health.


Dr. Atul Khullar

Derek Weir

Dr. Atul Khullar is a psychiatrist and sleep specialist who specializes in the combined management of sleep, mood/anxiety and attention deficit disorders. He also has a strong focus on the interactions of obesity, sleep apnea and mental illness. Most recently, he obtained expertise in the appropriate clinical use of medical cannabis in sleep and mental-health disorders. He completed his medical school and residency at the University of Alberta as well as a sleep and mood/anxiety disorders fellowship at the University of Toronto. Part of his fellowship included the interactions between adolescent sleep and mood disorders and he has additional pediatric sleep medicine training from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Khullar is board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine in both Canada and the United States. He’s also a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a clinical associate professor at the University of Alberta. Actively involved in research, Dr. Khullar has given more than 500 invited presentations to public and professional audiences worldwide. He has chaired a number of national CME programs in his specialized areas and is involved in guideline development for the management of co-morbid sleep disorders both provincially and nationally. Currently, he’s the medical director of the Northern Alberta Sleep Clinic in Edmonton. Dr. Khullar is also a senior consultant on topics related to the interaction between mood, anxiety, attention and sleep for the Grey Nuns Hospital, the Edmonton Oilers, and MedSleep, a Canada-wide network of community sleep clinics. He’s also worked with the Canadian Winter Olympic team in the past. In his spare time, he takes road trips around the world to explore his interest in various sports as well as 20th century political and social history, specifically World War II and the Korean War.


Sean Raible

Derek Weir

Sean Raible is an experienced total rewards/HR leader who has worked in several industries throughout his nearly 20 years in the field, including retail, aviation, financial services, consumer products, high tech, construction, telecom, etc. – including global experience across Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. Raible brings also strong vendor management and negotiating skills to his practice as he held a buyer role with a large national retailer overseeing a nearly $90 million category. Until recently, Raible held the position of director of total rewards, health and well-being at Vancity and has now launched ‘Game Plan Total Rewards’ – an independent compensation, benefits and workplace mental-health consulting business.  Learning from his personal journey, to seeing and supporting many challenges in the workplace over his career, he’s passionate about impacting mental health with his ‘Change One Life’ 4-pillar strategy to help organizations really ”show-up” for their employees – all while impacting the bottom line; it’s all about changing one life, one community and one organization at a time. Raible was the recipient of BC HRMA’s inaugural Rising Star Award, actively volunteers with Variety – the children's charity and chairs the local Vancouver Total Rewards Roundtable.


Nir Yahav

Derek Weir

Nir Yahav is a registered clinical counsellor and a mental health specialist with Manulife’s national disability best practices, where he guides and coaches case managers and disability benefits operations teams on mental health claims as well as implements best practices for mental health disability management. Yahav has 13 years of counselling experience working with clients with mental health conditions and addictions, trauma, domestic violence and parenting/co-parenting difficulties. Yahav’s been a presenter on the topic of workplace mental health. He’s also spoken about domestic violence and has written articles on the topic of anger management.


Event Location: Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver

Contemporary accommodations bring more fun to travelers staying at 489-room The Fairmont Waterfront, a luxury hotel set in a prime location in Vancouver where lots of fun destinations are within reach. A wide array of delicious food choices are featured at ARC Restaurant + Bar, with guests and locals invited to indulge in the local and handcrafted cuisine offered throughout the day


900 Canada Place Way, Vancouver, BC V6C3L5



Francesca Allman

Cassandra Williamson-Hopp
Katerina Galkina

Join the conversation! @BenCanMag #MentalHealth19