Latimer: National mental health conference is great for Kelowna

I frequently discuss the importance of bringing mental health illness out of the shadows and into mainstream conversations.

I frequently discuss the importance of bringing mental health illness out of the shadows and into mainstream conversations.

The more we are all aware of the prevalence and realities of mental illness, the more compassionate we will be toward our friends and family living with these conditions —and stigma will be less of a barrier to the mental health of Canadians.

For these reasons, I was very happy to learn that the Canadian Mental Health Association is holding this year’s National Conference on Mental Health right here in Kelowna. From Sept. 14 to 16, the Coast Capri Hotel will host delegates and speakers discussing many aspects of mental health.

What a great opportunity for our city. The conference, themed Movement building, is open to anyone who wishes to attend and will feature several prominent speakers as well as sessions and workshops on many topics sure to be of interest.

One of the keynote speakers is particularly interesting—Tod Mafin will discuss the work/life balance in his session called Taking Crazy Back.

For those unfamiliar with Mafin, he was the founder and CEO of a multi-million dollar technology firm and the host of a popular technology show on CBC. His high-paced lifestyle was brought to a halt by serious depression and addiction.

Mafin will talk about our work landscape today and the impact it may have on the productivity and mental health of Canadian employees.

Many other important topics will get covered at next week’s conference. One topic I cover quite often in this column is the link between mental health and poverty—and there will be a panel discussing practical supports to address homelessness,  featuring a representative from the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s housing first project.

Early brain development and ways to build resilient young people; primary care; reconciliation through cultural diversity; the importance of peer support; and human rights and mental health are all topics that will be main sessions at this national conference.

Afternoon breakout sessions will also take place every day with choices to attend smaller talks about child and youth suicide prevention, anorexia, culture and helping, among others.

It promises to be an exciting three days with many opportunities to learn more about mental health. Anyone is welcome to attend. Register online at

Conference rates are $495 for three days or $195 for a single day.

Subsidies may be available for those who cannot otherwise afford to attend.

Paul Latimer is a psychiatrist and president of Okanagan Clinical Trials.


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