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UofGH holds Global Indigenous Mental Health Symposium

On March 21, the University of Guelph-Humber Global Indigenous Mental Health Symposium will bring together esteemed researchers from across the globe to share ideas on how Indigenous communities around the world support the mental health of their members.

The panel of 20 representatives from diverse nations including Brazil, Australia, India, Russia, New Zealand, Israel, Indonesia, Norway and Peru will gather to address questions related to culture, challenge and resilience.

The event, to be held at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, will be moderated by University of Guelph-Humber Psychology Program Head Dr. David Danto and Instructor Dr. Masood Zangeneh.

“We feel very honored and fortunate to have the opportunity to host these notable guests for this important discussion on Indigenous mental health around the world,” said Dr. Danto.

The symposium will begin with a traditional opening ceremony performed by Chief Stacey LaForme and Arlene Faries, followed by an opening address from Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health director Dr. Suzanne Stewart.

From there, the 20 panellists will engage first in a moderated discussion before answering audience questions, and finally participating in breakout sessions.

The visiting researchers are also contributors to an upcoming edited volume from Dr. Danto and Dr. Zangeneh titled “Indigenous Mental Health: A Global Perspective.”

Although the contributors specialize in vastly different cultures and represent a wide diversity of perspectives, Dr. Danto said one factor linking the visiting scholars is that all to some degree utilize strength-based resilience models in researching Indigenous mental health.

“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 upcoming symposium is an opportunity to participate in a world-spanning conversation on this topic and expand our understanding of Indigenous mental health.”