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2023 Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Community of Practice 8th Annual Gathering: Summary Report


On September 14, over 100 family physicians, specialists, health care providers, Ministry staff, and Doctors of BC staff came together at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver for an annual gathering focused on improving the quality of care for children and youth facing mental health and substance use issues.


See below for a short summary of the day’s events. You can also review the full agenda and report.

  • The Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Community of Practice (CoP) 8th Annual Gathering opened with a traditional welcome and prayer led by Squamish Nation Elder Syexwáliya.
  • Dr Josh Greggain, president, Doctors of BC gave opening remarks, mentioning the recent award the CYMHSU CoP received and emphasized the importance of this work across BC.
  • Dr Jennifer Mervyn, registered psychologist, consultant, and speaker, introduced Dr Gabor Maté, former family physician and renowned addiction and trauma expert, who led a presentation on compassion fatigue, working with patients dealing with trauma and addiction, and discussed the root of addiction and substance use. 
  • Dr Roberto Sassi, child and adolescent psychiatrist, associate professor at the UBC Department of Psychiatry, and psychiatrist-in-chief at BC Children's and Women's Hospitals, introduced Dr Charlotte Waddell, child and adolescent psychiatrist and director of the Children's Health Policy Centre in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU, who led a presentation on statistics and research informing practice and policy for child and youth mental health.
  • Drs Shirley Sze, Rob Lehman, and David Smith—all of whom are part of the CYMHSU CoP working group—presented an update on their strategic priorities and the current state of the CoP. The working group then invited attendees to step out into the hall where various child and youth organizations had set up informational booths.
  • Dr Sassi introduced Dr Martha Ignaszewski, psychiatrist and education lead for Complex Pain and Addiction Service at Vancouver General Hospital, who presented on motivational interviewing (MI). At the end of her presentation, attendees broke out into groups of three to practice the skills they had just learned.
  • Dr David Smith, medical director for child and adolescent mental health and substance use, Interior Health Authority, introduced Dr Ashley Miller, child psychiatrist and senior medical director of academics at BC Children's Hospital Psychiatry, and Natasha Files, registered social worker and co-founder of Mental Health Foundations. The duo presented on emotion-focused family therapy. 
  • Dr Ian Schokking, family physician and Shared Care Committee co-chair; and Dr Rob Lehman, family physician, summarized the day's events and gave closing remarks.

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