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Louise Arseneault, Kings College London

Louise Arseneault’s research focuses on the study of harmful behaviours such as violence and substance dependence, their developmental origins, their inter-connections with mental health, and their consequences for victims. She is taking a developmental approach to investigate how the consequences of violence begin in childhood and persist to mild-life, by studying bullying victimisation and child maltreatment. Louise also studies the impact of social relationships including social support and loneliness on mental health. Her research aims are to answer questions relevant to psychology and psychiatry by harnessing and combining three different research approaches: developmental research, epidemiological methods and genetically-sensitive designs. Louise’s work incorporates social as well as biological measurements across the life span.

Louise completed her PhD in biomedical sciences at the University of Montreal and moved to the UK for a post-doctoral training at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre. She has been working with well-known longitudinal cohorts such as the Montreal Longitudinal Cohorts, the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally-representative sample of families with twins in England and Wales. She has also been exploring another important nationally-representative cohort, the National Child Development Survey (NCDS).

Louise was appointed the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Mental Health Leadership Fellow. Louise’s fellow role with the ESRC includes providing intellectual leadership and strategic advice in the priority area of mental health. It is a broad agenda including engaging research communities, promoting collaborations, advocating for mental health research, championing the co-design and co-production of research and providing advice to the ESRC and other research councils. Throughout the 3-year fellowship, Louise plays a vital role in championing the role of the social sciences in mental health research. She provides advice on how social science research can best address the challenges that mental health poses for our society, communities and individuals.

Nawira Baig, CHAT Ambassador, Singapore

‘To heal and help heal’- the purpose that drives Nawira’s passion for mental health advocacy. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 17, she has experienced and witnessed challenges a young person with a mental health condition could face. She is also familiar with disordered eating, self-harm, grief from losing a parent to terminal illness, academic and work-related stress, emotional abuse in a relationship, and trauma from sexual assault. She shares her story at various talks, human library sessions and panel discussions at community, university, and corporate events with the hope of inspiring others to find their healing, while also holding space and hope for all. As a CHAT Ambassador, Nawira, along with five other youth advocates, had the opportunity to discuss youth mental health with His Royal Highness Prince Harry during his visit to Singapore in 2017 by exchanging thoughts and ideas on existing initiatives in both Singapore and the UK. She has also lent her voice to improve Singapore’s youth mental health efforts through the National Youth Council’s Youth Conversations, and CHAT’s social media campaigns, service development efforts, and public outreach initiatives. She has written opinion editorials on mental health for The Straits Times. Nawira has also contributed her views and experiences to local theatre productions, books and publications, and several mental health campaigns, and came up with CHAT’s social media hashtag #letsCHATsg.

As a Singaporean woman with South Asian and Middle Eastern heritage, Nawira is currently working on developing gender and culturally-informed support services and resources in the country. She recently founded Letters to a Girl Like Me, a mental health initiative tailored for girls and women to inspire them to find healing through writing. She hopes to develop the initiative into a community sensitive to the unique needs of women to ensure they feel safe, supported, welcome and heard. As a freelance writer and journalist, Nawira is also working on stories on human rights issues within Singapore and Asia. She became a Certified Peer Support Specialist this year. A member of the Community of Practice of Peer Support Specialists in Singapore, she hopes to help advance peer support in the nation. Nawira also has plans to pursue further studies in psychology, and non-traditional creative forms of therapy.

Presentation Title: Youth have a voice: reflections on advocacy and action for youth mental health in Singapore and Asia

If we are talking about the future, then our youth are the future. It is not uncommon to hear a young person tell their parents, “You don’t understand!” To a young person facing a mental health issue, there is even more truth in this statement. Young people want to feel safe, welcome and heard. To improve youth mental health services within the community, it is vital to hear from the very people we seek to serve and support to ensure needs are met, and gaps are addressed. Much of Singapore’s youth mental health efforts are youth-informed through involving, representing and consulting young people in service development and improvement. From nationwide anti-stigma campaigns such as ‘Beyond the Label’ to community and campus outreach initiatives through the Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT), youth voices do not go unheard. Discover the factors that drive these advocacy efforts, and help translate awareness into action. We examine the effective use of social media and traditional media as we explore several examples within the Singaporean society and Asian context.

Having journeyed through the mental health landscape and system as a young person with a mental health condition, a volunteer, and now an advocate, I share how youth mental health in Singapore has evolved and continues to develop. I also discuss the power and potential in shaping narratives, and bringing forth ‘voices unheard’, in informing and influencing public discourse, attitudes and behaviour. Here in Singapore, we have seen young people supporting their peers with mental health challenges. We have seen young people speaking up and making their voices be heard on youth mental health issues and concerns. We have seen young people fight to survive each day with a mental health condition. However, more than surviving, we have seen young people strive to thrive.

Johanna Bergan, Youth MOVE National, USA

Johanna Bergan, (Youth MOVE National) is an advocate for youth with lived experience in the mental health system who is now working in the field of youth engagement to promote and encourage the inclusion of youth voice in policy change. Johanna has eleven years of experience advocating for important changes in the mental health system and serves as Youth MOVE’s Executive Director. Johanna intentionally provides ongoing support, coaching, and mentoring to emerging youth leaders and the leaders of youth driven organizations to further strengthen the national youth movement.

Presentation Title: Motivating Others through Voices of Experience

I will be speaking to the building of the United States youth movement, and the work to empower youth to change our system, including how the unification of our voices together are creating a powerful and inclusive network.

Ben Brooksby, The Naked Farmer, Australia

The Naked Farmer is a social media movement aiming to break down the difficult conversational barriers that often lay in front of people struggling to speak up on whats going on inside. By using the liberating combination of nudity and farm work, the Naked Farmer is starting conversations about mental health across Australia and even the world.

Founded by Ben Brooksby a 5th generation grain and sheep farmer from Western Victoria on May the 12th 2017, what started as a cheeky Instagram post exploded into a worldwide phenomenon that has captured the hearts and eyes around Australia and the world. If you are wondering how the Naked Farmer starts conversations, head to our Instagram and show a friend who hasn’t heard of us, one of the cheeky yet tasteful photos from the page. After 10 minutes …… what are you talking about?

Now Ben travels the country capturing images and stories of farmers from around this beautiful country for Calendars he publishes each year and raises money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service Rural Mental Health.

“I strongly believe educating our youth is so important for the future, if we can teach our youth, that will siphon through into the other generations to come.”

Presentation Title: Have a yarn with The Naked Farmer

Presentation Blurb: The Naked Farmer will be having a good old fashion chin wag about what The Naked Farmer is all about and what we aim to do in the mental health space with our social media’s.

This won’t be your average presentation, this country lad is very laid back, so much so you’ll be joining him on the couch with plenty of opportunities for questions, He will be showing you how he expose such a serious issue but in a light unique way. After all “It takes guts to get your gear off, as it takes guts to talk about mental health.”

He will be giving an insight of what goes on behind the scenes, but also touching on his own mental health that he has struggled with and how he learnt to control it.

Pattie Gonsalves, Digital Program Development & Evaluation, PRIDE

Pattie Gonsalves works in the areas of public engagement and digital interventions to improve adolescent and youth mental health. She is currently a Project Director at Sangath (India) with the PRIDE research programme, the largest adolescent mental health research programme ever undertaken in a developing country, where she leads the design and evaluation of digital mental health intervention for school-going adolescents in low resource settings. Pattie also leads It’s Ok To Talk(www.itsoktotalk.in), a national anti-stigma campaign for young people’s mental health. As part of this initiative, Pattie currently leads a new Wellcome Trust funded project, “Mann Mela”, that is setting up awareness-building immersive media museums for youth mental health in five cities across India. Her educational background includes psychology and public health. She has previously worked with UNICEF, Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and co-founded the Music Basti project.

Presentation Title: Engaging young people to make mental wellbeing and resilience a priority

Going beyond education, health promotion or recruitment to research studies this presentation will describe how to use creative and person-centered approaches to engage young people with mental health and identify priorities and challenges to meeting their mental health needs. It will draw on examples from work in India, including India’s first youth-focused national anti-stigma campaign “It’s Ok To Talk” as well as other approaches to using digital interventions to improve adolescent and young people’s mental health in low resource settings.

Carmel Guerra OAM (CEO, Centre for Multicultural Youth)

Carmel Guerra is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Multicultural Youth, the first and largest organisation in Australia to work exclusively with migrant and refugee young people and is Chairperson of the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) Australia, the national peak body.  Carmel is widely recognized for her knowledge and advocacy on multicultural youth issues and has a keen interest in the intersection of refugee resettlement, the migration process and mental health and well being of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Carmel sits on numerous advisory committees and is currently a member of the Youth Parole Board of Victoria, the Victorian Children’s Council, the Settlement Services Advisory Council, and the SBS Community Advisory Committee. She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2016 for services to multicultural youth and the Victorian Premier’s Award for Community Harmony in 2015 .

Dr. Joanna Henderson, Youth Wellness Hubs, Ontario and CAMH

Dr. Joanna Henderson is Executive Director of Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario and Director of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She is also a Senior Scientist in the Child, Youth, and Emerging Adult Program at CAMH and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Her work aims to improve access to high quality, integrated services for youth with substance use and/or mental health concerns and their families.

Sean Kidd, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto

Sean Kidd is a Clinical Psychologist, Senior Scientist, and Division Chief-Psychology at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. The focus of his career has been upon developing and trialing interventions for individuals with severe mental illnesses and homeless youth. He has also worked extensively in the areas of mental health reform and the study of marginalization and community participation amongst diverse individuals experiencing poverty and mental health challenges. Kidd’s intervention research has included the study of models of peer support, cognitive interventions for schizophrenia, complex interventions for homeless youth, and mobile health strategies for psychosis. He has also engaged in multiple, participatory, arts-based projects with marginalized people including homeless youth. Kidd’s interest in youth health and wellbeing grew out of experiencing the adverse impacts of bullying as a youth himself – an interest that was consolidated and focused through years of training as a clinician and research with marginalized youth. These experiences and an immersion in the literature on the topic made it very clear that this is an important area to concentrate efforts and an area where a big difference can be made from individual to social levels.

Presentation Title: Where two decades of engaging the youth homelessness problem have gotten me: Thinking about systems, complex interventions and, more than ever, collaborating with young people at the heart of it all

In this presentation I tell the story of my journey as I have tried to tackle the wicked problem of youth homelessness. This work moved from characterizing suicide and other risks through to efforts to understand resilience and survival strategies in street contexts. I will speak about what I learned from collecting hundreds of pieces of art, poems, stories and messages to the public as I traveled through services and streets in Manhattan, Vancouver, and Toronto. I then will discuss the turning point that came when colleagues and I spent a year with formerly homeless youth who had recently found housing – how that deepened my thinking about transitional periods. This study of transitions out of homelessness came at a fortuitous time – a time when I was also studying exceptionally effective mental health intervention models in low and middle income countries. I will address how this period of research and thinking led to our developing of a complex intervention for youth in transition out of homelessness. Our youth leaders came to call this intervention the Housing Outreach Program – Collaborative (HOP-C).I will speak about how HOP-C’s transitional case management, mental health intervention, and peer support components connect across different agencies and how it was adapted for northern Canadian Indigenous youth. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of how this kind of leveraged approach can make a difference when tackling complex problems, why thinking about system dynamics is where I think we need to spend more time in the youth homelessness field, and why continuous learning about enabling youth in this effort is so essential.

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