ASI 2020

Atlantic Policy Forum on Mental Health Promotion

August 24-26, 2020 ~ online

Upstream Investment in Mental Health Promotion: The Answer to the Mental Health Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited our ability to gather in large groups spanning provincial borders, but it has also increased public awareness about mental health and wellness, and the need for upstream action. With this in mind, the ASI Board of Directors has decided to move the forum online. We’re excited about the possibilities this presents for bringing together even more voices from across Atlantic Canada! ASI 2020 will be a virtual event that includes speakers, panelists, workshops, small group discussions, social and networking opportunities, the Atlantic Showcase, and our Youth Leadership Program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our collective vulnerability to the impact of isolation and our struggles to preserve our mental health. It has also highlighted the importance of considering mental health when instituting various policies that protect physical health. Society needs to have ongoing policies and programs that support positive relationships, social networks, education, adequate income, inclusion, and housing – from infancy to youth to older generations. This is why we need to continue working on upstream interventions that promote mental health and accessible services.”

– Patsy Beattie-Huggan, ASI Coordinator 

Be part of a movement that brings together people who are capable of influencing and implementing changes at the policy and community levels! ASI 2020 aims to increase understanding of the importance of infant, child and youth mental health for the whole of society, and foster policy actions to influence upstream investment in support of mental health.

Develop skills to build capacity for upstream policy development and implementation
Share ideas and engage in dialogue, building on evidence and best practice
Help build an agenda and resources for policy development and implementation
Collaborate and have fun with diverse participants
Learn from Indigenous leaders & youth advocates passionate about mental health promotion
Expand your networks in Atlantic Canada and beyond

Who will attend?
Politicians, public servants, health practitioners, private sector, media, unions, academics, educators, social agencies, community organizations, Indigenous leaders, youth leaders and the general public… everyone interested in collaborating to improve mental health!

“When we think of mental health we often think of emotional difficulties and mental health problems and how we can resolve a crisis once it has occurred. This thinking demands an investment after the fact or ‘downstream’. ‘Upstream’ thinking means investing wisely for future success and addressing the broader determinants of mental health at a population level. We view mental health as a resource for all that requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach. Although there is evidence to support an ‘upstream’ view, our current investment in policies and practice is ‘downstream’ and we will need a change in public and political support to think and invest differently.”

– Professor Margaret Barry, ASI 2017 keynote speaker,
WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research, National University of Ireland, Galway

ASI 2020 will build on the strengths of the past five years of successful ASI programming on mental health promotion, and consultations held this spring, and move action to the next level by producing resources that support upstream policy development and implementation to promote the mental health of infants, children and youth.

Following our successful ASI 2019 Forum on supportive environments for child and youth mental health, ASI is advancing the whole society approach by expanding our conversation to policy and programs. Provincial consultations were held this spring in each Atlantic province; and Atlantic consultations were held with Indigenous and francophone communities. Through this process and follow-up, we are building connections in each province to identify policies and programs that promote mental health – beginning in the early years – identifying best practice, gaps and areas for potential action. These consultations are informing the ASI 2020 program.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to engage all interested participants from Atlantic Canada and beyond, ASI 2020 will be offered on a robust online conference platform as an Atlantic Policy Forum on infant, child and youth mental health promotion.  With the theme Upstream investment in Mental Health Promotion – The Answer to the Mental Health Crisis, the forum will consider the state of mental health of children and youth before the pandemic and as an aftermath of the pandemic and explore means by which mental health promoting policies can be sustained and/or developed. Planned for the dates of August 24-26, 2020, the Forum will engage policy influencers in Atlantic Canada, i.e., politicians, public servants and civil society. Together we will learn about the evidence on “upstream” factors that influence mental health, and acquire skills to influence, develop and implement upstream policy.

Currently the world is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and experiencing a level of social and physical distancing that is unparalleled. Families are stressed with economic realities and others called to provide essential services. Expectant mothers are anxious about the environment into which their babies will be born. Early childcare centres have been closed, causing challenges for working parents. Schools are closed leaving families to provide home schooling. And although there is online support available, traditional support systems are not accessible. The situation is extending over an unknown number of months and challenges all of us to be resilient and attend to our mental health.

So what are the impacts on our children and youth? Although many have strengthened relationships by “staying at home” there are many who experienced increased trauma. What will be the impact? What will be the impact of the policies developed during this time? What opportunities will emerge? Will the recovery from the pandemic create new and better social structures and conditions that promote the mental health of infants, children, youth and the adults in their lives?  These questions and others that you suggest during the consultations are ones that we will share and pose at our Policy Forum.

The Forum will model collaboration in Atlantic Canada, expand our understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing, link with the Sustainable Development Goals, and move action in Atlantic Canada to the next level by producing a policy agenda and resources that support upstream policy development and implementation. Highlights include learnings from the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) early childhood mental health project, best practice from our Atlantic Canada consultations this spring, evidence from the National Collaborating Centres, and best practice from Quebec.

In the context of the pandemic, the program will explore:

  • Best practice of upstream policy action in Atlantic Canada
  • Defining policy and its power in promoting the mental health of Canadians
  • Evidence for upstream policies that promote the health of infants, children and youth
  • Two-Eyed Seeing – integrating indigenous ways of knowing
  • Impacts of politics and economics on policies and inclusion
  • Challenges and influencers for upstream policy development
  • Links with the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Skill development for influencing and implementing policy
  • The opportunity mid-pandemic to call for transformative change
  • Perspectives from youth leaders


The ASI 2020 Forum will be held online from August 24-26 in Charlottetown, PEI, streaming from the unceded ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq people. Materials in French and simultaneous interpretation will be available for many presentations. A Youth Leadership Program will also be offered.

We would like to acknowledge these generous supporters of the Atlantic Summer Institute on Healthy and Safe Communities. Thank you!

Download Media Kit here.

Change language


Recent Posts