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The College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada is committed to fostering engagement amongst its members, the Royal Society of Canada, and the public. To facilitate this engagement and showcase the expertise of our College members, the RSC College Webinar Series will be hosted by the Royal Society of Canada three times each year. This webinar series is managed by the College executive, advised by College Council, and supported by Walter House. 

Mental Health and the Just Society: Structural Inequality and the Role of the Academy

To a certain extent, Canadians have become more aware of the prevalence and challenges of mental illness. Conversations in civil society have given increased attention to questions of mental health. And yet we remain—within the academy and the public conversation, alike—a significant distance from widespread appreciation for the structural role of mental illness and our chosen responses (and non-responses) to it in the broader story of inequality, subordination, and societal injustice. In this webinar, academic leaders drawn from various disciplines will discuss issues such as the relationship between mental health and other aspects of a fair and equal society such as poverty, homelessness, and access to justice; structural challenges of psychiatric, police, and juridical practices in response to mental illness; the relationship between fiscal austerity and mental health; and the social determinants of mental health disproportionately affecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities. Overall, the webinar will reflect on the question of how we ought to understand the place of mental health in the shape of a more just and fair Canadian society, while also encouraging attendees to consider the role that the academy and scholarly research can play in in helping us move toward greater mental health justice. 


Jeffrey Ansloos is an Associate Professor of Indigenous Health and Social Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Ansloos is an interdisciplinary scholar, with expertise in sociological, environmental, psychological, and community health studies on suicide, housing, and mental health with Indigenous communities. Prof. Ansloos is the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Critical Studies in Indigenous Health and Social Action on Suicide. He is a registered psychologist and supervises graduate students in the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development. Ansloos is cross appointed in the Department of Psychiatry of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, and is an affiliate faculty member of the School of Cities. Ansloos is Cree and English, belonging to Fisher River Cree Nation (Ochekwi-Sipi; Treaty 5). He was born and raised in the heart of Treaty 1 territory in Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently resides in Tkaronto. 

Emmanuelle Bernheim is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Mental Health and Access to Justice. Her research focuses on the role of law and justice in the creation and perpetuation of social inequalities. Her research program is built around the issue of access to justice and its implementation for marginalized people under three main axes: mental health, youth protection and non-representation by a lawyer before the courts. 

Marie-Claude Geoffroy  is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Canada Research Chair (II) and psychologist. Her research focuses on youth mental health, suicide risk and protective factors, developmental origins, and most importantly, suicide prevention. Her work contributes to raising awareness about the current youth mental health crisis and building hope. She has had an impact on the advancement of knowledge, practice of psychology and public health. 

Christopher Mushquash, Anishinabe, is a member of Pawgwasheeng (Pays Plat First Nation). He is a clinical psychologist, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University, and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction. Dr. Mushquash’s work is focused on development of culturally appropriate mental health and addiction assessment and intervention for First Nations children, adolescents, and adults. 

Isabelle Archambault holds the Canada Research Chair on school, child well-being, and educational success and is coholder of the Myriagone McConnell-UdM Chair in youth knowledge mobilization. Anchored in a social justice perspective, her work in recognized for its impact on the development of best practices supporting different populations of children, like those from low-socio-economic families, with an immigration background, or presenting mental health difficulties. 

Benjamin L. Berger is Professor and York Research Chair in Pluralism and Public Law at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. He currently serves as a member of College Council for the College of the Royal Society of Canada. His areas of research and teaching specialization are law and religion, criminal and constitutional law and theory, and the law of evidence. He has published broadly in these fields and is the author or editor of multiple books. His interest in mental health and the law is longstanding. He has published work on mental health in criminal law and sentencing, advanced programmatic and curricular mental health initiatives at Osgoode, and has a research interest in the psychoanalytic tradition. 

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