Reflections From the 2013 CGMHN Conference: MEntal Health Nursing...A Journey of Collaboration, Culture & Change

CFMHN Conference Kelowna, B.C. 2013

By: Angela McNabb, RN

This year’s CFMHN conference was held in beautiful Kelowna, B. C. and I would like to thank the MHNIG for supporting my attendance at this wonderful event and to share some of the conference highlights with you. The theme of the conference for 2013 was “Mental Health Nursing…A Journey of Collaboration, Culture & Change” and the event truly lived up to it’s title!

Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada opened with her keynote presentation highlighting some of the most prominent issues related to mental health in Canadian society. She addressed the ongoing issue of stigma related to mental illness; in particular the fact that some of the most deeply felt stigmas toward clients  are held by front line health care workers. Louise also spoke about the importance of “psychological safety” in the work place. In her presentation she stated, “a fundamental way to better health care is through healthier health care work environments”. She left us with a call to action to advocate for the implementation of the commission’s National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Louise was followed by Barbara Mildon, President Canadian Nursing Association, who called on all in attendance to think about when they felt most proud to be a mental health nurse. This was a point of reflection for all but also an opportunity for sharing and several attendees came forward to share stories from their career.

Day two opened with a panel presentation: First Nations Mental Health Across Canada. The panelists shared deeply moving stories either from their personal or professional experience (or sometimes both) and offered us a window into some of the work that is being done with First Nations peoples across the country. Importantly, they also addressed many of the gaps in service and challenges that remain.

Of course there were also many informative concurrent sessions and, as always, it was difficult to choose which ones to attend. The topics were diverse but all highlighted the innovative and important work that is happening in this the field of Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing.  

Finally, one of the best things about attending any conference is the opportunity to connect or reconnect with colleagues. It was great to see so many familiar faces from Ontario and also to have the opportunity to meet new colleagues from across the country.  Thank you once again for your support!