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.
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.
Johann Brink, MB ChB BA Hons FCPsych (SA) FRCPC is a Clinical Professor and Head of Forensic Psychiatry at UBC. He also is Vice President of Medical Affairs & Research for British Columbia Mental Health & Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, with responsibility for the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission, and medical services in tertiary Mental Health and Substance Use Services in BC, and in the ten provincial Correctional Centres.
Dr. Brink completed his undergraduate and postgraduate training in psychiatry at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, before moving to Canada in 1992. He was the Clinical Director of a federal forensic psychiatric hospital in British Columbia before joining the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission in 2002, where he was Clinical & Scientific Director until 2010 and then became Vice President – Medical Affairs & Research. Dr. Brink is a founding member of the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada subspecialty in forensic psychiatry and the Past President of the Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (CAPL). He has sat on numerous other committees and boards.
Sandra Dawson is a Peer Researcher for CREST.BD at UBC, and a Contributing Editor for PsychCentral. She is a former advisor to the Mental Health Commission of Canada At Home/Chez Soi project. She spent years volunteering on the boards for Marineview Housing Society, the Canadian Mental Health Association North and West Vancouver Branch, and currently volunteers for the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, Vancouver Coastal Health's Community Engagement and Advisory Network, and the Patient Voices Network. Sandra brings lived experience to the Advisory Council, as well as extensive knowledge of e-health.
Amanee Elchehimi is from Surrey, British Columbia, where she is an active member of her local Muslim community, working on various youth and family-focused projects in the Lower Mainland and across Western Canada. Amanee currently works at Pacific Community Resources Society as the Manager of Vancouver Education Services, which includes the Pathways to Education program and alternative education programs. She previously worked as a youth outreach worker with vulnerable newcomer youth and is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor for Adults who interact with Youth. Amanee has a Masters of Public Health degree from Simon Fraser University. She has a deep interest in refugee youth mental health, mental health in the Muslim community, and mental health promotion at the community level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.