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Symposium highlights resilience of Indigenous communities

The University of Guelph-Humber hosted the recent Global Indigenous Mental Health Symposium in Toronto bringing together 20 global representatives. The symposium sparked an exchange of ideas and insights on Global mental health practices.

A key thread that connected the visiting scholars was the fact that even though they each offered different perspectives, they all had to some degree utilized strength-based resilience models when researching Indigenous mental health, explained Dr. David Danto, Psychology Program Head at UofGH.

In strength-based resilience studies, researchers study and examine the positive traits that are unique to a community and believe these attributes are the reason a community is able to overcome adversity.

"There has been a lot of research focused on pathology, and it is very important information – we need to know that rates of suicide, mortality, depression or substance abuse are higher, But that can lead us to not recognize the tremendous strength and resilience that I and many others have seen in Indigenous communities," Dr. Danto said. "With strength and resilience-based research, we're looking at examples of communities with positive mental health outcomes, and asking: What's being done in these communities?"

The symposium featured several moderated discussion panels, audience Q&A, and breakout sessions. Participants examined several Indigenous communities and their approaches to finding positive outcomes when it came to mental health. They also talked about how the presence of an inner strength and spirit helps them when facing challenges.

The symposium offered participants an opportunity to participate in a world-spanning conversation and expand their understanding of Indigenous mental health.

The visiting researchers will serve as contributors to an upcoming edited volume from Dr. Danto and UofGH instructor Dr. Masood Zangeneh titled "Indigenous Mental Health: A Global Perspective."

People discussing topicsPeople listening to a speakerPeople discussing topics at the symposiumSpeaker at the podiumWoman with microphone speakingGroup shot of attendees