13th Annual George Brown College Mental Health Conference

Thursday, March 1, 2012
290 Adelaide St. East, Toronto

From Exclusion to Inclusion: Accessing Employment Through Education

“There is incredible untapped potential in Ontario’s population. We need to put that potential to work by building supports and eliminating barriers to full participation in our economy and society.” Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, 2008

An educational forum presented by George Brown College’s Centre for Preparatory & Liberal Studies in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

About the Conference

The focus of this year’s conference will be on addressing barriers to education and employment success for individuals dealing with mental health concerns. Main themes will be inclusion, systemic issues, individual stories of challenge and success, and innovation. Speakers will include researchers, academics, activists, students, and alumni.

New - This year, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion on one of the conference topics and also use social media to post comments/feedback about the topics being discussed during the conference day via Twitter /Facebook.

Who Should Attend?

  • Educators/Program Managers
  • Mental Health/Addictions Counsellors
  • Shelter/Frontline Workers
  • Researchers
  • Policy Makers
  • Guidance Counsellors
  • Consumer Survivors
  • Service Providers/Practitioners
  • Youth Workers

Why Should You Attend?

  • To understand the historical context of mental health within education and employment
  • To learn about how The “Mad Movement” is shifting perspectives on education and employment
  • To listen to personal stories of social inclusion through education and work
  • To find out about social purpose enterprises and consumer-led business developments
  • To hear about successes and challenges in supporting students in mainstream education
  • To gain knowledge about supported education models that rethink mainstream education


13th Annual George Brown Mental Health Conference
Thursday, March 1, 2012
George Brown College
Financial Services Building, Room 406
290 Adelaide Street East, Toronto


8:00 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m.

Dr. Georgia Quartaro - Dean, Centre for Preparatory & Liberal Studies, George Brown College
Anne Sado - President, George Brown College
Susan Piggot – Vice President, Communications & CommunityEngagement,Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

9:20 a.m.

Morning Keynote Presentations:

  • Geoffrey Reaume, PhD, York University
  • David Reville, Ryerson University
  • Becky McFarlane, Activist

Geoffrey, David, and Becky will share their perspectives on the intersection of mental health, education and employment as well as discuss the historical context and pertinent systemic issues. They will educate participants on the “Mad Movement” and its impact on access and inclusion and present recommendations for positive change in policy and practice.

10:35 a.m.


10:50 a.m.

Book Draws
Presented by George Brown College Students

11:00 a.m.

Keynote Speakers
Geoffrey, David and Becky will debate issues in the access to education and employment for individuals dealing with mental health concerns.

Moderator: Olga Dosis, AODA Co-ordinator, George Brown College

12:00 p.m.

Lunch - 300 Adelaide St. E., 3rd floor  

Participants will have time to pick up a delicious lunch and then choose a Lunch ’n Learn presentation / discussion group to attend.


  • The School to College to Work Initiative: Promoting Positive Mental Health in At Risk Youth through Engagement in Education
  • Women Transitioning into the Trades: Pilot Projects Supporting Women with Multiple Barriers
  • Aboriginal Student Support at College: What is Needed
  • Social Purpose Enterprises: Innovative Models
  • Mad Students’ Society: Peer Support and Advocacy in Post-Secondary Education

1:30 p.m.

Book Draws
Presented by George Brown College Students

1:40 p.m.

Afternoon Keynote Presentation  

  • Diana Capponi, Employment Works! CAMH

Diana will explore the impact of employment supports on the consumer/survivor community and will help participants critically reflect on what has changed, what hasn’t, and what needs to change.

2:20 p.m.


2:35 p.m

Book Draws
Presented by George Brown College Students

2:45 p.m.

Student/Alumni Panel Discussion
Program participants of George Brown College’s Redirection through Education, Assistant Cook and Construction Craftworker Extended Training Programs will share their experiences and perspectives. Key factors in programs that make a difference to students dealing with mental health challenges or addiction issues will be highlighted.

Moderator: Olga Dosis, AODA Co-ordinator, George Brown College

3:45 p.m.

Wrap Up / Closing Remarks
Olga Dosis, AODA Co-ordinator, George Brown College

Presenters Info

Geoffrey Reaume, PhD

Geoffrey Reaume, an activist and historian, has worked to raise awareness of social justice issues in relation to Mad persons. Geoffrey teaches Mad People's History in the Critical Disability Studies program at York University and is a co-founder of the Psychiatric Survivor Archives, Toronto and the founder of the Wall Tours at CAMH. His work has focused on critically examining stereotypical notions of patients by the psychiatric system and the historical denial of lived experience.

Geoffrey will speak about the historical context of employment, education and mental health. Mad people, psychiatric patients, and consumer/survivors have had a long history of being exploited, underpaid or denied employment and education through discriminatory practices, which have been challenged by activists in recent decades. This presentation will link employment and educational experiences from the past to provide historical context and critical perspective to these issues today.

David Reville

David Reville, a psychiatric survivor and consultant on mental health policy, teaches at Ryerson University in the Disability Studies program. He has been a community activist, a plumbing contractor, a Toronto City Councillor, a Member of Provincial Parliament and Special Advisor to the Premier. He chaired the Ontario Advocacy Commission before establishing a consulting company and is on the board of Working for Change.

Starting from his own mental health story, a story of an interrupted education and a long period of poverty and despair related to difficulties in getting and keeping jobs, David will present a number of policy and practice recommendations in order to shift perspectives on increasing inclusion in education and employment.

Becky McFarlane

Becky McFarlane is a Mad-identified activist currently working alongside the Atkinson Charitable Foundation exploring community engagement and social inclusion models in training and employment. Previously Becky was a co—director of Working for Change, a psychiatric survivor run business that develops employment and leadership opportunities for consumer / survivors. She is currently involved with Habitat Services, Toronto Workforce Innovation Group and Change Toronto. Becky is a strong believer that transformational change must be led from the ground-up and that our time, energy, and resources are best directed at empowering communities to take up issues on their own terms.

Becky will speak about the appalling rate of unemployment for psychiatric consumer/survivors and existing employment training programs that address this yet still focus on the perceived ‘deficits’ of individuals, with little to no acknowledgment of the inequality, discrimination, and deprivation that is systemically embedded in “work.” Becky’s presentation will march us into a realm where we challenge ourselves to imagine a more participatory and inclusive way of “delivering services” as a critical step in revolutionizing the way that social service agencies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions conceptualize workplaces and work.

Diana Capponi

Diana Capponi is the Employment Works! Co-ordinator for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), where she assists the Human Resources department in recruiting and retaining employees with mental health and/or addiction issues at CAMH. She is the past Executive Director of the Ontario Council of Alternative Businesses, a unique provincial organization committed to the provision of employment through the development of Alternative Businesses.

Diana strongly believes that former clients working alongside clinicians, managers, supervisors, researchers etc., will not only improve the quality of patient care, but will go a long way in addressing the discrimination faced by those who have mental health and addiction histories. Twenty three years of working in the Consumer/Survivor community has led Diana to a critical analysis of the policies, efforts, resources and labelling of those faced with little, if any, real opportunities for work or education. As Diana explores the impact of employment supports on the Consumer/Survivor community she hopes that her presentation will provide food for thought about our individual and collective rationales behind providing employment supports.


Olga Dosis  

Olga is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities co-ordinator at George Brown College and has been actively involved in assisting small and large organizations with their accessibility initiatives for over 20 years. She has supported the development and execution of training, conducting environmental scans of policies, practices and procedures, as well as accessibility built audits to assist organizations in becoming barrier free. Olga has written several papers on disability and her extensive disability and accommodation knowledge has been indispensable in developing realistic plans and strategic direction to implement the requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Registration Info

Registration Fee Packages: All include full conference, continental breakfast and hot lunch.

Fee Packages:

Early Bird [before Feb. 10, 2012, 5:00 p.m. EST]
Conference Attendee - $100.00 + HST = $113
Student Attendee - $70.00 + HST = $79.10

Conference Attendee - $120.00 + HST = $135.60
Student Attendee - $75.00 + HST = $84.75

Registration is closed for this event.


  • One registration form per person
  • Walk-in registrations will only be accepted if space permits.
  • Registration fees are non-refundable unless notice of cancellation is received by 5:00 pm on February 24, 2012. Registrations may be transferred to another individual.

For More Information

For more information, please email mentalhealthconference@georgebrown.ca or contact Tenzing Kunga at 416.415.5000, ext. 3539.

Mental Health Conference Mailing Address:
George Brown College
200 King Street East
Room 524A
Toronto, ON
M5A 3W8

Please visit our website for information about parking.