The MHCC Advisory Council was created to provide the MHCC with an expert group of individuals who can provide strategic advice and expertise to the MHCC leadership, and on specific initiatives, projects, and key priority areas, while serving as external Ambassadors at events for the MHCC.
The MHCC Advisory Council will be comprised of up to 16 individuals from across Canada with expertise in one of the MHCC key priority areas.
- Providing strategic advice and direction as requested by MHCC leadership;
- Engaging in MHCC strategic initiatives to provide key content expertise and guidance on key elements in the mental health landscape;
- Communicating on behalf of the MHCC by accepting appropriate opportunities to discuss the work of the MHCC (media, speeches, workshops, conferences, etc.);
- Support and Development: Helping to prepare information/summaries, and review/edit reports as requested by MHCC departments;
- Pursue, as directed by MHCC leadership, opportunities to promote/disseminate the work of the MHCC while investigating opportunities for collaboration within Canada and abroad.
Alain Lesage is currently a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montréal. He is an accomplished scientist focusing much of his work around mental health and addiction services. He is also the medical director of the Mental Health Technology and Interventions Assessment Unit at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, and the Associate Director of the Québec Research Network on suicide, mood disorders and associated disorders. He was formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Santé mentale au Québec, and was the past President of the Canadian Academy of Psychiatric Epidemiology. Lesage graduated in medicine from the University of Sherbrooke and completed his postdoctoral training at the Institute of Psychiatry and Maudsley Hospital in London, England; and the Istituto di psichiatria in Verona, Italy. He was an invited scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2005 and has recently been invited to join the executive board of the European Network of Mental Health Service Evaluation (ENMESH). He continues to train the next generation of mental health and addiction researchers in collaboration with Quebec, Canadian and international colleagues. He is an active member on the Mental Health Commission of Canada Advisory Council.
Amanee Elchehimi is an active member of her local Muslim community in Surrey, British Columbia, where she has worked on various Muslim youth projects in the Lower Mainland. She previously worked as a youth outreach worker with vulnerable immigrant and refugee youth, and completed a research study on refugee children and youth’s mental health and well-being in BC as part of her Masters of Public Health degree at Simon Fraser University. Currently, she is a Community Engagement Coordinator, focusing on the educational attainment and success of vulnerable populations in Vancouver. On behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), she has presented at a forum on the intersections between mental illness and addictions. She has a deep interest in cultural competency and diversity training in mental health, particularly as Canada becomes increasingly diverse. In March 2013, Elchehimi was elected as Vice Chair of the MHCC’s Youth Council.
Since 2002, Charles Bruce has been the CEO of the Nova Scotia Public Service Long Term Disability Plan Trust Fund (NSPS LTD). He is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Chartered Director (C.Dir), and Certified Financial Planner. He has attended the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and Queens University School of Business. Bruce is the former Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada Workforce Advisory Committee, past Chair and Treasurer of the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, past Board Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (National), and a member of the technical committee that developed the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, of the Partners for Mental Health Workforce Committee.
Since 1990, Ella Amir has been the Executive Director of AMI-Québec Action on Mental Illness/Agir contre la maladie mentale, a principal resource in Québec for families struggling to cope with mental illness in a loved one. Her work and passion led her to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in 2007, when she was designated Chair of the Family Caregivers Advisory Committee (FCAC). The National Guidelines for Caregiver Support, spearheaded by the FCAC, aimed at creating a blueprint for caregiver support, so caregivers can provide the best possible care while maintaining their own wellbeing. Amir holds a PhD in psychology and applied human sciences from Concordia University and an MBA from McGill University. She brings an invaluable wealth of knowledge and expertise to the newly-formed MHCC Advisory Council.
Gwen Villebrun is a registered psychologist who currently works and resides in Edmonton, Alberta. She is of Dene and Métis descent, born in Hay River, Northwest Territories. She graduated with her Master of Science degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Calgary, concentrating her thesis research on Aboriginal women’s healing experiences from depression. Presently in private practice, a significant part of her work is with Aboriginal families andher areas of specialty are depression, anxiety, trauma, and abuse. Villebrun is particularly interested in Mental Health Commission of Canada First Nations, Inuit, and Métis initiatives.
Jane Hamilton Wilson is currently working as a professor at Conestoga College, teaching within the collaborative BScN program, where she is developing a mental health, anti-stigma program and is actively promoting knowledge exchange activities around it. She is also engaged in work involving early psychosis, specifically the impact it has upon family caregivers. She is a member of multiple networks, including the International Association for Early Psychosis and the Mental Health Nursing Interest Group. She was a presenter at the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Opening Minds Conference in 2012, and a Fellow of MHCC’s Supporting the Promotion of Activated Research and Knowledge (SPARK) Training Institute in Newfoundland. She graduated with her doctorate from the University of Alberta.
Marie-France Tourigny-Rivard, MD, FRCPC, is a psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa. Her career has had a distinct focus on clinical care and mental health services for older adults. She was a founding member and past president of the Canadian Academy for Geriatric Psychiatry, and in 2007, was appointed as Chair of the Seniors Advisory Committee of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). Her work on the Seniors Advisory Committee led to the publishing of the Guidelines for Comprehensive Mental Health Services for Older Adults in Canada. Marie-France continues to provide geriatric outreach, support, and expertise to community mental health services, and now to the MHCC Advisory Council.
Nancy Reynolds was the inaugural President and CEO of the Alberta Centre for Child, Family, and Community Research based out of Edmonton, Alberta. The Centre is a recognized global leader in bringing to action priority-research findings in childhood wellbeing. Prior to moving to the Centre, she was the Assistant Deputy Minister – Partnership and Innovation for Alberta Children’s Services. Currently, Reynolds is a faculty member of the Max Bell Foundation’s Public Policy Training Institute where she lectures on the role of research in public policy. She was a former member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada Child and Youth Advisory Committee and helped develop the Evergreen Framework, a report that identified more than 100 strategic directions that governments and service providers can use to develop child and youth mental health initiatives. She also led the Youth Knowledge Transfer project for this committee. Reynolds brings a passionate interest in child and youth mental health to the MHCC Advisory Council.
Norman Segalowitz is Professor of Psychology at Concordia University in Montréal, and Adjunct Professor at the School of Psychology and Counselling at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. His research interests include diversity issues in healthcare communication. Norman is a member of AMI-Québec (Action on Mental Illness/Agir contre la maladie mentale) and its goal is to help families manage the effects of mental illness through support services and education initiatives. As a caregiver of someone with lived experience, Segalowitz was a former member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Family Caregivers Advisory Committee and was active in developing the Family Caregivers’ Guidelines. Following his initial MHCC work, he helped co-found the pan-Canadian Families Advocating for Mental Health/Familles militant pour la santé mentale (FAMH).
Over the last 20 years, Patrick Baillie, who is also a lawyer, has worked as a psychologist in a community-based forensic mental health program. He is currently a senior psychologist with Alberta Health Services and a consulting psychologist with Calgary Police Service. Baillie was a member, and, later, Chair, of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) former Mental Health and the Law Advisory Committee. In late 2013, he is scheduled to become Legal Counsel to the Provincial Court of Alberta, essentially a lawyer who provides research and advice to the judges. Over the course of his career, Baillie has given evidence in hundreds of criminal and civil cases and is cited in more than 50 reported decisions. He continues to provide the MHCC with particular expertise around the Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) Reform Act.
Rhonda Anderson is currently a Mental Health Facilitator at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Among many things, she facilitates mental health and wellness programs in local businesses, schools, hospitals and police services. Prior to her work at the Mount Royal, she worked at the Schizophrenia Society as a Partnership Education Coordinator and TELUS as the Regional Wellness Specialist, providing expertise in developing strategic employee health and wellness programs. Rhonda is a Certified Mental Health Peer Support Specialist. She is an active member of the Calgary Mental Health Network, a multi-disciplinary coalition promoting a holistic approach to mental wellness. She is also on the Citizen Advisory Team at the South Health Campus in Calgary providing input on patient care and hospital development. A person with lived experience, Anderson now lives a healthy and balanced life through yoga and meditation and holistic living. She is most passionate about mental health education with a focus on recovery and anti-stigma work and now brings her extensive knowledge on these issues to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Advisory Council.
Rod McCormick is a Senior Professor in Aboriginal Child and Maternal Health in the Faculty of Human, Social, and Educational Development at Thompson Rivers University. Prior to moving to Kamloops, he was a psychologist and counselling psychology professor at UBC for 17 years. McCormick is Mohawk (Kahnienkehake) and has maintained a clinical and consulting practice in Aboriginal mental health for more than 25 years, providing services to more than 100 communities and agencies. He is a highly-funded Aboriginal researcher and is the co-author of the Aboriginal Career Life Planning Book – Guiding Circles, which has been distributed in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Sandra Dawson is a Contributing Editor for PsychCentral, one of the largest mental health web sites online today. She is a former Contributing Editor at ScienceBlogs and a former advisor of the Mental Health Commission of Canada At Home/Chez Soi project, for which she was on multiple committees and panels, including the National Consumer Panel and the Vancouver Peer Reference Group. She has spent many years volunteering on the boards for Marineview Housing Society and the Canadian Mental Health Association North and West Vancouver Branch. Dawson brings lived experience to the Advisory Council of severe mental illness, homelessness, trauma, and suicide attempts. Her experiences drove her to create @Unsuicide and Online Suicide Help, two popular, online suicide prevention resources on which she remains the lead facilitator.
Sheeba Narikuzhy currently works as a clinical supervisor at East Metro Youth Services (EMYS) in Scarborough, Ontario, and is a part-time patient care coordinator at Inpatient Psychiatry of the University Health Network in Toronto. She has worked extensively with adolescents and has a special interest in teen suicide prevention and the incorporation of technology into mental health services and knowledge exchange. Narikuzhy was formerly a member of the Children’s Mental Health Ontario Teen Suicide Prevention committee. She currently chairs the Knowledge Exchange Committee and is the former chair of the Diversity Committee at EMYS. She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology as well as extensive training on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She is a member of the Ontario Association for Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists.
Sheryl Pedersen is a person with lived experience both personally and as a caregiver. From her personal experience stems her passion as a mental health advocate. She has given numerous presentations about illness and recovery in order to help women and men move past their challenges and to live well. She is a former member of the Eastern Ontario Mental Health Implementation Task Force as well as the Ontario Provincial Advisory Committee on Mental Health Reform. Pedersen brings her perspective and experiences living and caring for loved ones with a mental illness to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) Advisory Council.
Steve Lurie is the Executive Director of the Toronto Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, a position he has held since 1979. He has provided strategic advice and support on many international initiatives such as the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF), a community mental health and research organization in Chennai, India, as well as worked on the development of a National Mental Health Plan for Kyrgyzstan through the Soros Foundation. He is the principal author on the Graham report, Building Community Support for People, and conducted the 1998 Minimum Data Set Pilot Project which established a common data set for the reporting of client outcomes in community and hospital based mental health services. In 2005, he provided technical assistance to Michael Kirby on the development of the $5.3 billion mental health transition fund recommended in Out of the Shadows at Last. He was the Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada Service Systems Advisory Committee from 2007-2012, leading initiatives on diversity, house, and peer support, among others. Lurie is an adjunct professor in health and mental health policy at U of T Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.