Stay Tuned! Full Conference Program to be released in early 2024!


Chris Beaudry – “The Heroes and Dragons of Mental Health”

The concept of Functional Mental Health is an individual process that reflects each person’s life, their own experiences, the context of these experiences, and the related social determinants of health. Discovering and rediscovering what works for you today, not tomorrow or yesterday, but today is functional mental health. It takes a lot of courage and vulnerability to discover what path is the right one for you today.

Chris speaks to and supports his audience to reflect on their own experiences and the aspects of functional mental health that can be most useful to them through the sharing of his own journey and process with trauma, addictions, and mental illness.


Dr. Jan DeFehr – “Mending Psychiatric Divisions, Crafting a Liberating Ethic of Care”

Mental health promotion campaigns and curricula encourage early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of what psychiatry classifies as mental disorder. This familiar pathologizing approach separates those deemed disordered from others presumed to be normal. Problematically, mental health promotion omits critical knowledge in the field of mental health. Critical knowledge exposes routine harm and significant misinformation in mainstream mental health. Produced over decades by patients and ex-patients, academics, and professionals, the critique of mental health has intensified in recent years. Omission of this critique impedes individual capacity to make informed decisions about professional intervention.

Dr. DeFehr will outline core areas of mental health critique within current peer-reviewed scholarship in critical psychology, critical psychiatry, and mad studies. Drawing on professional ethics standards, she will argue that members of the public are entitled to full disclosure of relevant critical knowledge, and professionals carry the responsibility to disclose. Dr. DeFehr will describe a Winnipeg community health clinic’s emerging initiative to build client access to critical mental health knowledge. Already equipped with conventional mental health resources, the clinic’s mental health informed choice action research project is generating new online and printed critical mental health resources; the formation of a Critical Mental Health Working Group representing major areas within the clinic; and new, board-supported, informed choice policies and practices. The clinic’s collective action is de-automating the dividing practices implicit in psychiatric diagnosis. It is enabling a wider range of options and cultivating an unprecedented standard of care rooted in solidarity and informed choice.

Sera Davidow – “Mental Health through a Harm Reduction Lens”

The default approach to emotional distress within Westernized societies is to medicalize and locate the problem within the individual. However, our medical systems – while adept at addressing many actual medical issues (for example, a drug overdose, whether intentional or otherwise) – has notoriously low rates of success at resolving concerns related to what they typically call “mental illness.” In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that being a part of a Westernized society is a predictor that one will never fully recover. Davidow’s presentation will delve into the whys and impacts of this failure, while exploring a fundamentally different path called ‘harm reduction’ as it relates to common experiences within the psychiatric system such as hearing voices, self-injury and suicidal thoughts. Personal story and real life examples will be intertwined with research and strategies to help illustrate ideas presented. Themes explored will include the power of loss of power, the essential nature of supporting someone to make meaning of their own experiences, redefining ‘the problem,’ and harm reduction as a pathway to equity and cultural representation.


This program is subject to change.