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Home > News > Algoma University’s School of Social Work Inaugural International Conference on
Mental Health and Addictions a Resounding Success

Algoma University’s School of Social Work Inaugural International Conference on
Mental Health and Addictions a Resounding Success

(BRAMPTON ON- May 2, 2023): Last week, the School of Social Work at Algoma University hosted the inaugural International Conference on Mental Health and Addictions at its Brampton campus. This two-day hybrid conference focused on Reimagining Mental Health and Addiction Under the COVID-19 Pandemic. Registrants participated in a series of presentations and panel discussions primarily focused on addressing the causes and contributing factors to mental health and addiction problems. Participants also discussed how to address a range of related issues.

Highlights of the conference included three Keynote speakers, who focused on the importance of decolonization and Indigenization, and ways of engaging with mental health and addiction issues. The Keynote speakers included Mary Wabano-McKay: Vice-President Nyaagaaniid, Anishinaabe Initiatives, Equity and Student Success at Algoma University, Dr. Charmaine Williams: Dean of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work from the University of Toronto and Dr. Paul Banahene Adjei: Associate Professor -School of Social Work and Interim Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Research) at Memorial University.

“Mental health and addictions are critical national and international issues we are facing in the 21st century,” shared Dr. István Imre, Associate Vice-President, Academic at Algoma University. 

“With one in four people experiencing mental health issues in their lifetime, and substance abuse continuing to be a significant health concern, it is imperative that universities take a leading role in research aimed at understanding the causes and risk factors associated with these conditions, as well as identifying effective treatments and strategies to help people who are affected by mental health and addiction issues.”

The inaugural conference was organized by faculty, staff and students in the School of Social Work and Department of Sociology at Algoma University in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Regina, Toronto Metropolitan University and groups from Kenya. This first-of-its-kind event generated significant interest, with presentations from 183 participants from different countries across the globe, including Australia, the Philippines, Kenya, the U.K., the United States, Cameroon, Canada, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Sweden, Nigeria, and others. 

Conference organizers hope to continue this event on an annual basis.

Additional Quotes:

“The International Conference brought together top-notch scholars, practitioners, and researchers to engage with critical issues on mental health and addictions that have ravaged the lives of many Racialized and Indigenous People. It is high time to rethink how we can work together to respond to issues of mental health and addiction.The active participation of Dr. István Imre, Associate Vice-President, Academic and Vice-President Mary Wabano-McKay reinforced their commitment to scholarly engagement on this important topic, reminding us all that these discussions should be embedded in every discipline and program across the University.”

  • Dr. Rose Ann Torres, Director and Assistant Professor of the School of Social Work

“Mental health and addiction have definitely affected every aspect of life. The covid-19 pandemic has compounded those effects in ways that are disproportionate to most marginalized communities. This has had a negative effect on teaching and learning more so in the transmission of teachables. While there have been great strides towards developing virtual models of teaching and learning, many racialized students have been left behind by the changes made in the online curriculum. This conference was the first of its kind in (Northern) Ontario and all agree that it should be a yearly engagement to remember those who have lost their lives due to the pandemic and mental health and addiction.”

  • Dr. Dionisio Nyaga, Chair of the International Conference and Assistant Professor of Social Work

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