Mental health first aid, dementia and Indigenous peoples, self-management programs, arts-based approaches to social inclusion, and improv – just a partial list of what attendees can expect at the 2017 seniors’ summit set to be hosted at Trent University in Gzowski College on October 26.
Organized by Age Friendly Peterborough and hosted by the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS), this year’s summit, titled Grey Matters: Healthy Minds for Healthy Aging, is expected to draw more than 200 people to discuss the connection between mental well-being and healthful aging.
“Mental health is an issue that’s top of mind for many of us. It’s an issue vital to healthy aging and we need to shine as much light on it as possible,” said Dr. Mark Skinner, TCAS director. “Our approach at this year’s summit is to look at mental health from a variety of perspectives and help foster critical dialogue in each of these areas of research.”
The summit will open with an address from Minister of Seniors Affairs Dipika Damerla, who says, “the mental well-being of older Ontarians is a priority of our Government, and we have sought to provide programs that keep seniors, active, healthy, and engaged. At the summit, I am keen to learn from attendee’s experiences and better understand what is working well and where gaps in service might exist.”
The summit’s keynote speaker, Denise Waligora, is a mental health first aid (MHFA) master trainer with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. MHFA is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Just like physical first aid is provided until medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved.
Other speakers at the day-long summit include: Dr. Jonathan Bertram, family and addictions medicine physician with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health who will speak to the pressing issue of addiction in the senior population, and actor and comedienne Linda Kash will close out the day on a positive note with a gut-busting improv session that will quite literally explore laughter as a conduit to mental well-being.
“My organization’s vision is ‘Mental Health for All,’ which is why the focus of this year’s summit is especially important to me,” remarked Kerri Davies, one of the summit’s organizers and manager of development for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge. “Connecting current research in this area with our community and front-line workers is incredibly valuable. With a focus on mental well-being, we hope Grey Matters will bring in the same big, lively crowd we usually attract. Mental health is an issue we can all relate to and doing so in a safe, open space like Trent University is as good as it gets.”