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Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment Conference: Future Directions for Sexual Violence Prevention

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) hosted the Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment Conference on September 24, 2018.  Some of the conference topics included:

  • Public health impacts of sexual violence and harassment
  • Causes of sexual violence
  • Experiences of victims
  • Perceptions and perceived norms of perpetrators
  • Roles of peers and peer dynamics
  • Bystander interventions
  • Sexual assault resistance and training
  • Engaging men in prevention


Dr. Samantha Wells, the symposium chair, gave a talk highlighting her research on young men’s beliefs, attitudes, and norms related to sexual harassment and aggression in bars. 



"The goal of the event today is to bring together researchers and prevention experts to really tackle the problem of sexual violence," said Dr. Wells, speaking with the Portico team. "Here it is, a year after the #MeToo movement began, and we have so much further to go, but the momentum is incredible.  Prevention experts or mobilizing activities for change to reduce sexual violence.  And today is just a glimmer of hope in that broader spectrum of initiatives that are happening."

During lunch, the Portico team did a short interview with Dr. Charlene Senn on the future directions of sexual violence prevention:


Other presentation that were filmed included:


Related Resources







Introducing the Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project


The Office of Health Equity introduces the Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project—an online training with capacity-building resources, to build on your work as a health, social or settlement or service provider. This project gives you the essential information you need to provide excellent care and support to immigrants and refugees. It’s built by experts, it’s evidence-based and it’s free.


    You will be able to:

  • strengthen your knowledge;
  • develop your skills; and
  • build your networks. 


Growing from the success of the Refugee Mental Health Project, which has trained thousands of service providers across Canada, the project has expanded to provide an interactive learning experience with practical activities, where you can learn skills that you would use in your role. 


Begin exploring the videos, tools and resources on the Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project website.

Bell Let’s Talk 2018: Community and Professionals Resources

Bell Let’s Talk 2018
is here, and we have rounded up some of the best resources on Portico to use in daily practice, and to share with patients and families. 

Find services in your community (across Canada):

If you’re a health care professional, finding services can be challenging.  Here are some places to start, by province, east to west. 


British Columbia: HealthLink BC

Alberta: Alberta Health Services

Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Ministry of Health

Manitoba: Health, Seniors and Active Living

Ontario: Connex Mental Health Helpline

New Brunswick: Horizon Health Network

Nova Scotia: Department of Health and Wellness

Prince Edward Island: Health PEI

Newfoundland and Labrador: Provincial Programs

Yukon: Yukon Mental Health Services

Northwest Territories: Community Counselling Program


For more information, check the full list.

Our connections in the community

Some of our connected sites are resources for both professionals, patients and families.



Caring for the #Wholeperson

The Medical Psychiatry Alliance crafted video with Nabihah, who is not your average teen. She is living with cystic fibrosis and struggles with depression.

The Medical Psychiatry Alliance interviewed Dr. Sarah Kohut on how she is researching new psychosocial interventions for children with chronic pain conditions.



Teach Resiliency: A Mental Health Resource for Teachers
is a door to an online library of practical, evidence-informed resources and tools to support mental health in our classrooms and schools—for students as well as educators. It’s also a place to learn from one another: to exchange ideas, create new resources, and share important perspectives and ideas.  

With research indicating that 20 per cent of Canadian students suffer from a mental health illness and teachers facing higher levels of stress than the general public work force, there is a need for more support for mental health resiliency in the classroom. To meet that need, Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada), along with Supporting Partner The Co-operators and program partners, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and University of Western – Centre For School Mental Health, is proud to announce the launch of Teach Resiliency

More Educator Resources on Portico can be found here.



World Down Syndrome Day: Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health

Things to consider for treatment and care of individuals with Down Syndrome

Tools and Resources

There are a number of tools available on Portico for primary care providers on mental health and developmental disabilities:


For more information about mental health, primary care and developmental disabilities, visit


Mental Health Resources: Bell Let's Talk 2017

As part of Portico Network, our staff and partners work to reduce stigma and increase the knowledge of evidence-related tools and mental health best practices.  Bell Let's Talk is an opportunity to talk about care and access for the mental health needs of patients, families and professionals.  We have done a round-up of mental health resources from the network that can be used in the day-to-day work of education, screening and treatment.

New! Childhood Trauma Toolkit:  A resource for pediatric health care providers

Developed by Dr. Priya Watson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, this toolkit is a resource for health care providers working with children and youth experiencing developmental trauma, as well as the compassion fatigue that many health providers face when dealing with children and mental health related issues.

Developmental Trauma

Compassion Fatigue

Clinical & Screening Tools


Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person's own motivation for and commitment to change.  

Overview of Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers  

CAMH Education Course: Motivational interviewing (MI): Introduction and application (Level 1)


Anti-Stigma and Educational Resources

These resources were developed for primary care, knowledge exchange professionals and educators.

CAMH Anti-Stigma Initiative for Primary Health Care in Ontario

'Community' Reconsidered

Collaborative Mental Health


For further resources across the web, check out our full list of connected sites.  

Seeking Safety Community of Practice Seven Months Out: How I got here

We ask and Leslie Molnar answers how she came to Seeking Safety and the community of practice.  This is the second post in our ongoing Seeking Safety community of practice series. See the first post in the series here.


What is the Seeking Safety like?

Our community of practice (CoP) meetings are very welcoming and informative. It is a great opportunity to network and share information that is extremely helpful.

The CoP offers a connection with other Seeking Safety facilitators in the community who can relate to each other around the challenges in assisting people who have experienced trauma; one can often feel overwhelmed in this work. Stories of how we support our clients, help them address their substance use and trauma in a compassionate way and how to use self-care strategies are part of the sharing that goes on. We also trade business cards, report on resources, what Seeking Safety groups are available, when they’re running, what the intake process is like, etc.

How did you first learn about Seeking Safety?

During my Master of Social Work program at University of Toronto, I was introduced to the manual by one of my professors who had been working at CAMH at the time. I was doing a collaborative program in both MSW (mental health) and an addiction specialty training, and I was curious about the connection between trauma and substance use.

A few years ago I did a training with Lisa Najavits [the author of Seeking Safety] and it solidified my desire to offer this program to my clients. 

What did you do with Seeking Safety before joining the Community of Practice?

During my training in trauma-informed work at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) I was introduced to some of the information from the Seeking Safety manual that is used in group work, such as “Grounding” and “Red and Green Flags”.

In 2012, I assisted in the development of the Substance Use Service (SUS) at WCH, which started with one addiction psychiatrist, one addiction medicine doctor and one social worker (me).  Providing a Seeking Safety treatment group was a natural fit for the SUS program since we recognized that many of our clients had experienced trauma at some point in their lifetime.  There are now seven addiction medicine doctors, a psychiatrist, a clinical social worker, one social worker managing research and a research assistant.  It has become a very busy clinic.

I have routinely used the Seeking Safety modules in 1-on-1 sessions with my clients who are unable to attend a group or those I see between groups.

And how have you adapted Seeking Safety to your own practice? 

The Seeking Safety material lends itself well to 1-on-1 settings as well as groups. I work in the SUS two days per week and am often speaking with clients who are discussing their trauma for the first time. Seeking Safety information is easy to understand, is user friendly and is very helpful for the clients. 

I run Seeking Safety groups two times per year with addiction psychiatrist Dr. Inbal Gafni. We run a mixed group over 12 weeks.

This is about the group (from our WCH newsletter):

Advice for individuals considering joining the Seeking Safety CoP?

JOIN! (Ed note: You can e-mail to get on the list for future meetings.)

What will you be discussing for the next meeting?

Discussion regarding topics for the next session included:  vicarious trauma, emotion regulation, self-disclosure with clients; there was an interest in opportunities to observe Seeking Safety groups that are already running.

Suicide Prevention Centres and where to find them

Updated Sept 2018

According to research gathered by the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention, "In Canada suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death, with rates increasing over the past 60 years. Suicide is currently ranked as the 9th leading cause of death in Canada." More information on Statistics Canada about suicide in Canada can be found here.

We've made a list of suicide community resource centres, as well as online resources connected to Portico Network that can be used for screening and assessment.  For primary care providers, there are resources available to assess for suicide risk and tips on how to approach suicide risk at the bottom of the post.  

If none of these resources below work for you, check out the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP).  They have a full list of crisis centres.



Alberta Health Services Mental Health Hotline

British Columbia

The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC  


Reason to Live – Manitoba Suicide Line 

New Brunswick

A list of relevant centres via Government of New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Crisis Line:
Local [St. John's NL]: 709-737-4668
Toll-Free: 1-888-737-4668

Northwest Territories

NWT Help Line

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team


Kamatsiaqtut Help Line


A list of relevant centres via Ontario CMHA 

Toronto 408 Distress Line

Distress and Crisis Ontario (DCO)

Crisis Line (Ottawa region)

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Mental Health Services and Island Helpline


l’Association québécoise de prévention du suicide 


211 Saskatchewan


Holistic crisis planning toolkit

CAMH Suicide Prevention and Assessment Handbook (PDF)

Kids Help Phone-Speaking About Suicide a Suicide Attempt


International Overdose Awareness Day 2016

A message from Heather Lillico, Knowledge Broker in the Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) 

Since 2001, International Overdose Awareness Day has worked to raise awareness about overdose and to combat the stigma associated with drug-related deaths. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose and lists local events around the world.

Canada has seen a dramatic rise in overdose deaths in recent years, with opioid-related deaths ranking as the third leading cause of accidental death in Ontario. Illicit versions of more powerful opioids such as fentanyl have also entered the market, causing significant public health concerns.  

Overdose Awareness Day is a time to reinforce the message that overdose deaths are preventable.

CAMH Provincial System Support Program’s (PSSP) Opioid Resource Hub has many resources for health professionals, corrections and justice workers, educators, youth, family members and people with lived experience of opioid problems, and more. A recently launched resource, Opioids and addiction: a primer for journalists, provides journalists with important facts regarding opioid use and addiction, and guidelines for reporting on these topics in ways that encourage understanding and promote healthier people and communities. There are many other resources available online, such as this new infographic from the Opioid Resource Hub on Portico, which provides quick facts on the dangers of fentanyl. 

Time to act: Join the upcoming webinar 

On September 14th, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and the Evidence Exchange Network at PSSP will co-host a webinar about naloxone, the opioid overdose medication. Overdose Prevention with Naloxone: National and Provincial Landscape will provide an overview of opioid-related trends in Canada, discuss the function of naloxone and the process of making it more widely available and examine the role that health care providers can play in the delivery of naloxone. 

We encourage you to join the discussion. To register for the webinar, click here.


Other Addiction Resources  


What does a Naloxone Kit Look Like?

Availability of Lifesaving Overdose Medication Increasing in Ontario

A guest post by Heather Lillico, Knowledge Broker in the Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) 

By now, most Ontario pharmacies that provide opioid agonist treatment, such as methadone and Suboxone, should have received their first shipment of free naloxone kits.Naloxone Kit

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it can be used to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose while emergency services are called. Previously, naloxone was only available at select locations throughout Ontario. Now that it’s available in pharmacies without a prescription, more people will have access to the medication. A recent news article said that Alberta agencies in Red Deer had already given away hundreds of kits.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health staff Susan Eckerle Curwood and Heather Lillico wanted to experience the process of receiving these kits, so they popped into a local pharmacy near CAMH’s Russell street site to check it out.

“The process was remarkably easy,” says Lillico, a knowledge broker in the Provincial System Support Program (PSSP). “We spent about 15 minutes in a consultation with the pharmacist during which he went over signs of an opioid overdose, contents of the kit, and how to administer naloxone.”

The kit contains two vials of naloxone, ampule splitters, syringes, gloves, alcohol wipes, and a face shield for CPR purposes.

“The process was very respectful when receiving naloxone,” says Susan Eckerle Curwood, also a knowledge broker in PSSP, “which helps remove some of the stigma that prevents people from accessing this medication.”

Susan posted more information about the experience on EENet Connect, an online community where members share knowledge on topics related to Ontario’s mental health and addictions system. The topic has generated quite the discussion. Check it out here.

Related Links

Opioid Resource Hub: Naloxone

Primary Care Addiction Toolkit: Opioids

Opioid Resources: Clients and Families


May 31, 2016

World No Tobacco Day 2016

In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling countries to get ready for plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products. World No Tobacco Day, May 31st, is an opportunity to talk about risks of smoking, addiction and to encourage patients and clients to be smoke free.

Portico Resources

For Clinicians

Tobacco use disorder:


Coming soon on Portico! Journey to tobacco-free

On January 1, 2018, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act will require all hospital grounds will be required to be 100% smoke-free (including the removal of any Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs).

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has officially been tobacco-free since 2014.  They will be starting a community on Portico to share lessons learned and sample tools on being tobacco-free.  They will also release information on tobacco free policy as part of the initiative to help other hospitals learn how to implement and respond to the needs of clients and patients in a hospital setting.

Information and tools on how to implement a tobacco-free environment and community discussions about tobacco free policies will be coming soon to Portico.


May 10, 2016

Nursing Week 2016

May 9 - 15 is Nursing Week. With more than 406,000 regulated nurses in Canada, the largest of any health provider group, nurses are the backbone of our health systems, including mental health and addictions.

This week is a time to celebrate the exceptional and far-reaching contribution of nurses to make Canada a healthier nation. 

We have selected a few nursing-related websites and links to commemorate the week. 

Portico Nursing Related Videos

Nursing at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Nursing Organizations and Knowledge Exchange 

May 3, 2016

Seeking members to build a Seeking Safety community of practice

Portico’s Spotlight Blog welcomes a guest poster: Dr. Wiplove Lamba, MD, FRCPC, Dip ABAM, an addiction team doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. If you are interested in joining the Seeking Safety community of practice, please e-mail for registration information.

We’re looking for teammates and mentors to come together to share and support each other in using this low-barrier therapy.

When we work with people with substance use disorders, we hear a lot of stories, from moments in their lives where they were able to experience joy and hope, to periods where they went through tremendous suffering. For many people who use substances, some of that suffering has stayed with them in the form of nightmares, flashbacks and uncontrollable intrusive thoughts that result in avoidance behaviour where they cannot leave their homes. They sometimes also interpret the world around them as not being safe.

During my work with people who use substances, I have heard that they sometimes use the drugs to cope with those experiences, and when they stop using the drugs, the nightmares and flashbacks get worse. A lot of the addiction programs available exclude people with severe mental illness or do not offer concurrent treatment. A lot of mental health programs exclude people with active substance use. When people don’t feel safe and their avoidance behavior and anxiety is high, some of them can’t even come to appointments or tolerate a group setting.

I was having trouble knowing where to send patients who had trauma and used substances. They would go into trauma programs, then start to drink more to cope with their worsening symptoms. They would go to drug detox, and not be able to cope with the nightmares and flashbacks that returned. I wanted to offer something in the here and now that could help. For women, The Jean Tweed Centre in Etobicoke was fantastic and so many patients I’d seen had done great there. I was not sure where to send the men locally who weren’t ready for a longer-term program.

Seeking Safety was the first therapy that I learned about that offered patients with both trauma and substance use a therapy that was very low barrier. It could be used by a community worker with a patient in a shelter; it could be used by a psychologist in a weekly group setting. 

Treatment Innovations (created by the developer of Seeking Safety, Dr. Lisa M. Najavits, to deliver the therapy) offers a strong training program, but there were none in Canada. I arranged to co-host an event with them in Toronto that ended up costing me less than it would to travel to the States for training. But after attending the workshop, I knew there was no way I would be able to provide this therapy in a sustainable way on my own. As therapists, the trauma stories are more likely to stay with us if we don’t have the proper supports and infrastructure in place. I needed teammates to work with, and mentors to learn from. So I recruited one colleague from the training, Cris Lopez, who has a lot of experience running our addiction day program through the St. Michael’s detox, one community member who wanted to learn the training (Toni Black, a case manager at Fred Victor), and we started offering a group at St. Michael’s Hospital. I also wanted to find a forum where we could share knowledge and teach each other through a community of practice.

I think we’ve all experienced what usually happens after workshops. We experience a “high” from the training, incorporate some of what we learned into our practice, do the skills for a little bit, but in three to six months, our practice returns substantially to what it was before. I wanted to create something sustainable and have it grow organically where people can share their experiences with each other.

That’s why I’m posting here on Portico

I am building a Seeking Safety community of practice (CoP) with an online presence here on Portico, face-to-face meetings, trainings, online events, whatever we feel will help us provide low-barrier care for people who have experienced trauma and use substances. The primary target audience is community workers, but anyone can attend including social workers, therapists, nurses, doctors, addiction counsellors, EMS workers. Dr. Najavits designed the therapy so that people with lived experience could also facilitate the groups.

We had our first three-hour session on February 5 and it went incredibly well. We had 20 people come, and two of them had much more Seeking Safety experience than I did. One, Carolyn Lessard from Concurrent Disorders Support Services in Toronto, has adapted the therapy for disadvantaged populations (for example, those who are homeless, have low socio-economic status or have difficulty reading). Leslie Molnar, from Women’s College Hospital, came as well; she already had a mixed men’s and women’s group on the go to prepare clients for the more comprehensive programs after first-stage safety had been achieved.

Our next session is Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 1:00–5:00 p.m., at St. Michael’s Hospital, 30 Bond, Chalmers room 6-002 Cardinal Carter Wing (next to the cafeteria). I hope you come out to learn or share your knowledge in providing care for people who have experienced trauma and use substances.


More about Seeking Safety:

 Seeking Safety was created by Lisa M. Najavits. The website offers all the resources for Seeking Safety, as well as trainings.

A brief bio of Lisa M. Najavits, creator of Seeking Safety, with a link to her full C.V.


Joining Seeking Safety:

If you are interested in joining our Seeking Safety community of practice, please e-mail for registration information.

Next session: Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 1:00–5:00 p.m., at St. Michael’s Hospital, 30 Bond, Chalmers room 6-002 Cardinal Carter Wing (next to the cafeteria)

May 2, 2016

Mental Health Week 2016 banner.

Mental Health Week 2016

May 2 – 8 is Mental Health Week in Canada. Approximately 7 million Canadians, or 20%, currently live with compromised mental health, illness or addiction issues. The week is a time to reflect, raise awareness, educate and share stories about mental health, illness, and recovery.

Started by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in 1951, this year marks the 65th anniversary of the campaign. In 2016 special attention is being given to older Canadians, reflecting how seniors can be an under-treated group for mental health issues. The theme is GET LOUD, encouraging Canadians to break the silence and stigma that can surround mental health issues, by speaking up and talking openly about mental health to raise awareness and build support.

We have lots of information and resources on our network and have chosen a few to support clinicians, teachers and clients.

Clinical resources

Mental Illness and Substance Use Anti-Stigma / Discrimination Intervention for Primary Health Care Providers in Ontario

Wellness and comfort activities toolkit

Mental health promotion: Overview & Guidelines

Resources for teachers and educators

Mental health in the classroom: resources for teachers

Finding mental health and addiction clinical services

From CMHA: Toolkit for teachers

Information for clients

Looking for Mental Health Services? What You Need to Know

From Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Social media and student mental health: What's the connection?

New MPA pilot program at CAMH aims to provide better access to medical care for patients with severe mental illness


Trauma informed care: a panel discussion (series)

April 1, 2016

Tomorrow, April 2nd, is World Autism Day. We’ve put together a few resources for supporting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities.

Quick facts about autism and mental health:

  • 1 in 68 children are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder – Autism Speaks Canada
  • A study of Ontario adults found that, from the sample, 45 per cent of adults with developmental disabilities also had a psychiatric diagnosis (“dual diagnosis’) – CAMH
  • Studies have also shown that Children with ASD are three to four times more likely to have mental health problem – ASD Mental Health Blog


Clinical resources:

Blog post: Raising Awareness about Autism: Some tips for clinicians from Dr. Yona Lunsky

Portico: Dual Diagnosis resources

Tools for primary care providers caring for adults with developmental disorders

Talks from the 2016 Adult ASD conference


Resources for teachers and educators:

Educator Toolkits: Videos, classroom discussions, teacher resources and supplemental activities to engage your student body on World Autism Awareness Day


Resources for caregivers:

Autism parent resource: online resource to help parents, caregivers and families better understand autism and the range of services and support available in Ontario



DD CARES Best Practices: Improving primary care

In this video a man with Autism Spectrum Disorder has pain in his ear and is visiting a family doctor. The video shows strategies to improve his care include asking permission, offering choices, and describing and showing before doing.

For information and resources for family and caregivers, persons with developmental disabilities and health care providers, visit H-CARDD here.

February 3, 2016

The Portico Network Official Launch Event

On January 21st, we held the official launch event for Portico and the Psychiatry in Primary Care Toolkit with Bell Let’s Talk.  We’ve officially launched, thanks to help from Bell Let’s Talk and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Dr. Catherine Zahn, CEO at CAMH, kicked off the event discussing the gap in mental health services. Portico Network has been designed with this in mind – tools, resources and information to assist primary care providers supporting Canadians with mental health and addictions problems.  

(L to R): Nancy McNaughton, Senior Simulation Specialist, CAMH; Dr. David Goldbloom, Senior Medical Advisor, CAMH; Mary Deacon, Chair, Bell Let’s Talk; Amy Restoule, Social Worker, Sudbury East Community Health Centre; Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO, CAMH; Ann Douglas, Author, Patient, Family Member and Member of Portico’s National Advisory Board ; and Dr. Peter Selby, Director of Medical Education at CAMH.

Portico aims to improve practice and help primary care professionals with rapid assessment, screening and intervention for mental health and substance use disorders. The Psychiatry in Primary Care iPad app works in conjunction with the online resources on the Portico Network by providing easy to use technology for practitioners to run sessions, use interview guides and create toolkits before seeing their patients.

Dr. David Goldbloom, Senior Medical Advisor at CAMH, demonstrated how to use the iPad app and online toolkit on Portico during a mock session with a client. After the event, on Bell Let’s Talk Day, Dr. David Goldbloom was also on CTV Canada during Bell Let’s Talk discussing access to care and how the Portico Network and Psychiatry in Primary Care Toolkit are helping this issue. Check out the video here. 

During the launch event and the following week during Bell Let’s Talk, we continued to share and discuss different tools and resources on our online platforms. Here are some of the top stats/shared items:

  • Portico received over 1,200 shares and mentions on social media with Bell Let’s Talk and the launch announcement
  • We released 2 blog posts on Bell Let’s Talk Day: Youth Suicide and Difficult Conversations in the Workplace
  • We hosted a Bell Let’s Talk Tweet Chat on caring for older people with mental health: Check out the recap of it here

Overall, our January has been a huge success in talking about the importance of Portico Network in primary care and addictions and mental health.  Thank you to everyone who took part!

January 28, 2016

Bell Lets Talk Tweet Chat: Aging and Mental Health

For Bell Let’s Talk Day we hosted a tweet chat on caregiving, aging and mental health. We had a great discussion with several different organizations and individuals in the community.  

Some common themes we heard throughout the chat about caregiving:

  • Listen
  • Avoid language like “You’re just having a bad day”
  • Respect for the individual in care


H-CARDD shared some caregiver resources for people aging with developmental disabilities:

Some tips from Alzheimer Society of Toronto for caring for someone with mental health issues:

Romina from Alzheimer Society Toronto shared a link to free counselling services.  

For more info about Alzheimer's, dementia and the mental health of older adults, check out these resources:

January 27, 2016

How to Deal with Difficult Conversations about Stigma from a Trauma-Informed Perspective

By Sireesha Bobbili, Special Advisor/Project Coordinator, Office of Transformative Global Health, Social & Epidemiological Research, CAMH & Infographic by Erin Lee, Communications Specialist, Office of Transformative Global Health, CAMH

Stigmatizing attitudes and practices conveyed by staff towards people with mental illness and/or substance use problems is a common occurrence in health care settings, however it is a very sensitive topic for many health professionals.

What makes conversations about mental illness and substance use related stigma difficult?

What does it mean to be trauma-informed?

These are just a few of the foundational questions from Dealing with Difficult Conversations from a Trauma-informed Perspective, a leadership workshop that is a part of a multi-level anti-stigma initiative.

The Office of Transformative Global Health collaborated with three Toronto-based community health centres (CHCs) to develop and pilot test this initiative, which aimed to mitigate the impact and address the root causes of mental illness and substance use related stigma. Champions at each CHC were crucial to the development of the intervention, by providing contextual information and logistical support for implementation as well as generating buy-in from peers. Champions included CHC staff, consumer/survivors and community members.

Dale Kuehl, Advanced Practice Clinician, and Leslie Flores, Education Specialist, facilitating the workshop ‘Dealing with Difficult Conversations from a Trauma-informed Perspective’ at Unison Health and Community Services on April 24, 2015.

In a collaborative effort, Leslie, Dale and myself adapted a workshop held by Ken Bascom, Senior Organizational Development Consultant, titled ‘Crucial Conversations.’ We integrated two new components to this material to fully support this project: trauma-informed perspectives and stigma related to mental illness and substance use. The main objective was to strengthen leadership skills and increase the comfort level of champions in discussing stigma with their peers.

Leslie and Dale facilitated the trainings at the three CHCs, where they focused on how a trauma informed perspective could impact conversations. They also included interactive exercises and a few case studies in order for participants to practice skills as they learned them. Workshop evaluation questionnaires revealed that 88.8% of staff agreed that the workshops were useful for their work.

Here is a step-by-step guide to dealing with difficult conversations:


Although this workshop was just one component of the overall intervention, we were thrilled to find a 5.9% improvement in stigmatizing attitudes towards those with mental illness and substance use disorders at the end of the five-year project. As a result of this and many more positive outcomes, we are now running a randomized control trial with six CHCs to further validate the intervention.

For more information on the anti-stigma project, please check out our Portico Partner Page here or contact Sireesha Bobbili at For updates on the many projects undertaken by the Office of Transformative Global Health at CAMH, follow @akwatukhenti

January 27, 2016

“Job one is keeping youth alive. For me that’s the bottom line”

An interview on youth suicide with Dr. Corine Carlisle, Clinical Head of the Youth Addictions and Concurrent Disorders Service in the Child, Youth & Family program at CAMH.

Prevalence of youth suicide

As the second leading cause of death for youth, after unintentional injuries, suicide is a primary concern for health care providers when dealing with youth patients. Approximately 20-25% of all teens think about suicide at some point in their adolescence. For Dr. Corine Carlisle, working in the Youth Addiction and Concurrent Disorders Service, suicide risk is something she deals with daily.

Assessing risk factors

For professionals dealing with youth, it is critical to always consider risk factors and safety. When doing a psychiatric assessment, Corine stresses the importance of keeping in mind the spectrum of risk and harm. Youth may range on the spectrum from thoughts of suicide or suicide ideation to suicide planning, rehearsing or acquiring means to complete the suicide - and it’s all a concern. As care providers, “We want to make sure we understand where on the spectrum that youth is, so we can guide our intervention,” Corine said.

For anyone supporting youth such as teachers or family and friends, if there is concern about safety the key is to get the youth to a health care provider. Once they are in a professional’s care, “It’s our job to do everything we can to assess and mitigate risk,” says Corine.  Care providers need to be aware of imminent risk factors when assessing patients for treatment. A few of these risk factors may include:

  • Current episode of depression
  • Access to lethal means – firearms, knives
  • Familial factors – someone in the family who has attempted or completed suicide
  • Access to means of overdose or self-harm
  • Facing a disciplinary crisis
  • Isolation or alienation

Approaches to care: Youth vs. Adults

When asked about the difference in approaches to care for youths versus adults, Corine says it’s about understanding the different skills and strategies that youth have to deal with life’s turmoil and the different stresses youth face. Stresses for youth can be very similar to adults such as facing criminal charges or the loss of a romantic relationship, or they can be very youth-specific such as suspension from school.  The social context of each youth needs to be considered. Social media, bullying and cyber-bullying can be sources of extreme stress for young people. Youth are in a period of development facing numerous changes and new learning experiences. Even as they are emerging as independent young adults, they are still extremely vulnerable and don’t have the same coping strategies that adults do. 

With each patient, it’s very dependent on the situation and the context. It’s about looking at how the patient can be best supported and engaged, preserving their dignity and supporting their willingness to get help. Corine says a key to providing care for these youth is to focus on their strengths; things you can call on, bolster and remind youth of. It’s about supporting the youth all while doing everything that is needed to keep them alive and safe.

Finding and providing help

It’s important to know where to turn.  If you are a youth in crisis, first and foremost, reach out and talk to a trusted adult.  It is really important to know that you don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out and get the help and support of the people around you. Don’t let feeling shy or nervous get in the way. The trusted adults around you will be so happy that you asked them to help you stay safe. You can also reach out to community walk-in centers where you can meet with counsellors who are experienced in working with youth.  Or you can call a crisis line or chat on-line with trained counsellors ( 1-800-669-6868). Bottom line: Reach out to someone for help!

If you are a youth and you are worried about a friend – you also need to reach out to a trusted adult. Don’t feel that you have to shoulder this alone. Do not keep your concerns about your friend a secret.

If you are the adult a youth comes to in crisis, it is important to remain calm and do not judge.  Tell the youth that you are happy they spoke to you and acknowledge the courage it took for them to do that.  Connect with resources in schools such as a school guidance counsellor, social worker or nurse.  Contact your primary care provider or access community crisis services or youth urgent care clinics. If you have immediate concerns about a youth’s safety, do not leave the youth alone.  Access the emergency department services closest to you.


For more resources on youth suicide, check out:

December 17, 2015

8 Tipsheets You Can Use Around the Holidays

Happy Holidays from Portico! The holiday season can be busy and stressful, making it extra important to take care of your mental health during this time. We’ve put together a collection of resources from a few different organizations to share during the holiday season.

Tip #1:

CAMH Tipsheet: Coping with holiday stress:

Tip #2:

Check out this blog post from Women's College Hospital for 10 tips on dealing with holiday stress - "Don’t let holiday cheer turn into holiday fear! Make this holiday season stress-free!"

Tip #3: 

8 tips for mental wellness during the holidays from CMHA Alberta: 

Tip #4:

Here to Help BC: Info sheet about seasonal affective disorder including tips to ease your winter SAD symptoms. 

Tip #5:

CAMH blog: Stay safe with these ten party-hosting tips

Tip #6:

Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines from CCSA. 

Tip #7:

Mind Your Mind blog: Tips to get you through the holidays.

Tip #8:

Client handouts: Mental health and addictions topics. 

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