Mental Health on the Prairies Conference and Gathering

COVID-19 Update

The health and safety of the community at large continue to be a priority in planning this gathering. Due to the recent developments in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with the recommendations of the Brandon University Crisis Response team, the Mental Health on the Prairies Conference and Gathering planning committee made the decision to cancel this event that is scheduled this Spring (April 29 – May 1, 2020).

Jordin Tootoo’s public talk and the World Café will be scheduled at later date. We recommend that participants continually visit the conference website for updates regarding these events. Thank you for your continued support.

We understand that these are uncertain times for everyone. For more information on safe hygiene practices, please visit the following links:

Coronavirus response

Visit the Government of Canada website for information about COVID-19.

Public Talk – Postponed

World Café – Postponed

April 29 – May 1, 2020
Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Mental health problems directly affect approximately one in five Canadians every year (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2013). In Manitoba, alone, there were 262 reported suicide attempts for every 100,000 Manitobans in the past five years and 28 % of adults were diagnosed with at least one of four mental health problems or addictions in the same period (Chartier et al., 2018). Mental health problems and addictions have many symptoms but they hold in common their effects on individuals, their families, coworkers and communities. They affect, and are affected by, the workplace, home, and community. Although people of all ages live with mental health challenges and addictions, some groups are more affected because of poorer access to resources and because of how society views them. Helping Canadians successfully manage these problems requires involvement from local communities and all groups involved in providing support. It is important that the support from all groups comes from understanding the personal experiences and needs of people with mental health and addiction problems. Because any individual experiencing mental health and addiction problems affects so many people around them, communities need to find solutions by learning from anyone who understands and works with people living with mental health problems and addictions.


The overarching goal of the Mental Health on the Prairies Conference and Community Gathering is to increase the use and usefulness of mental health research on the Canadian Prairies. To do this, the event has three specific objectives:

  1. To provide a forum for different forms of knowledge sharing between academics, professionals working in health and social care, educators, community groups, and people with lived experience of mental health and addictions;
  2. Increase access and participation in knowledge exchange, particularly among groups that typically do not have a voice in the discussion;
  3. Provide a catalyst for future university-community knowledge co-creation and use.

To meet these objectives, the event will include a series of keynote presentations, experiential learning activities, and organized sessions.

Keynote presenters will include Dr. Michael Ungar (Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience at Dalhousie University) and Dr. Caroline Tait (Co-lead of First Peoples First Person, a national Indigenous research hub of the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network). To increase access and participation in knowledge exchange, the first evening of the conference will also feature a public talk about suicide prevention and awareness. This talk will draw in a larger and more diverse crowd. During the first day of the meetings, participants will engage in experiential learning activities led by community collaborators including a poverty simulation, a forced displacement exercise, and a blanket exercise. Each of these exercises responds to the shared interests of community stakeholders and represent the complexity and diversity of mental health experiences in the community of Brandon, where the event is being hosted, and the Prairies more broadly.

Visit the Guest Speakers page for more information.


With a general theme of Mental Health on the Prairies: Social Justice, Vulnerability, and Resilience, the conference aims to dig deeper and open the conversation surrounding the factors that impact an individual’s mental health and the community’s collective mental health. Throughout the meeting, panels will be used to bring together stakeholder groups in a large group discussion with a focus on four conference sub-themes:


The meeting will conclude with a World Café lunch where participants will discuss community challenges and solutions to mental health promotion and maintenance on the Prairies. Ultimately, the event will draw together the experts on the ground with academic experts across the country to share knowledge and engage in critical conversations about community-based mental health research and solutions. Visit the Program page for more information about the conference schedule.


We are excited to see you in spring
at the Mental Health on the Prairies Conference and Gathering!

The deadline for abstracts and presentation outlines submission is now extended. Click the link Abstracts and Presentations for more details.

More information and announcements will be posted on the conference website in the coming months along with program details and conference registration process. We are encouraging you to check the website regularly.

For more information, please contact