Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

To view past blogs, please click on the home icon below left.

Webinar Recap: Introduction to promoting positive mental health

On June 28th, in collaboration with HC Link, the CAMH Resource Centre held the third iteration of the ever popular webinar "Introduction to Promoting Positive Mental Health". Marianne Kobus-Matthews and Tamar Meyer, both Health Promotion Consultants in the Provincial System Support Program at CAMH facilitated the webinar.

The first half of the webinar provided an overview of mental health promotion concepts and why it is a mainstream activity; or in other words, the "what" and "why" of mental health promotion. Tamar spent some time delineating between "mental health" and "mental illness" and referred to what Corey Keyes calls a mental health continuum and a mental illness continuum. Keyes argues that "mental illness and mental health are highly correlated but belong to separate continua, and therefore the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses will not necessarily result in more mentally healthy individuals." To see a visual explanation of this mental health/mental illness continuum including a story that may help illustrate it, view the recording starting at the 12:00 minute mark.

Screen shot 2012-07-06 at 3.38.14 PM

In the second half of the webinar, Marianne covered the "how" of mental health promotion. That is, she reviewed strategies, best practices, resources and exemplary programs to promote positive mental health and explored how our work in mental health promotion may intersect with other risk factors and priority areas. In addition to highlighting the series of best practice guidelines for mental health promotion programs (Children (7-12) and Youth (13-19); Older Adults 55+; Immigrants and Refugees) identified by Marianne, a webinar participant from Sick Kids shared information on Infant Mental Health Promotion, including a set of best practice guidelines. For more information and resources on infant mental health promotion, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks to all the webinar participants who shared their innovative programs, best practices and resources!

Marianne also highlighted a newly released resource called YouThrive – a bilingual web-based resource for leaders in communities and schools that uses a health promotion approach to support positive mental health and prevent risk-taking behaviour among young people. Developed in a partnership involving CAMH, the Canadian Mental Health Association (Ontario), the Ontario Lung Association and Ophea, it is for leaders in communities and schools across Ontario who work with youth aged 12 to 19. While technical issues prevented us from showing the YouThrive video during the webinar, we encourage you to take a look at the 4-minute video and visit the YouThrive website.


Over 60 people participated in the webinar and included a broad array of sectors with the majority (43%) of participants working in a Public Health setting, followed by community services (18%). Other participants included Ministry staff, those working in school health, workplace health/human resources, and First Nations health, as well as community engagement. Thank you for your continued interest in promoting positive mental health!

Slides, webinar recording and a list of web links and resources identified during the webinar are available via HC Link.

4865 Hits

Webinar Recap: How to Engage Francophones: when you don't speak French!

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

Supporting our clients in engaging their Francophone communities is an area that HC Link has been working in for the past several years. We've delivered several webinars and produced many resources – in both languages – on the topic. But this week, Estelle Duchon and I delivered a webinar with a slightly different spin: how do you engage Francophones in your community work when you don't speak the language?

For many people working in the areas of community-based planning, health promotion and healthy communities, we want to fully engage and work with all of the people who live, work and play in our community. When it comes to working with the Francophone community many feel that this can only be done if we are fluent in French. In our 90 minute webinar, Estelle laid out three easy steps to engage Francophones regardless of your French capacity.

Step One: Examine Your Motives: be very clear about the purpose and objectives for your engagement strategy, and also have a plan in place for what you will do with the results. The Francophone community has, in many cases, been consulted often with sometimes invisible results. By properly identifying what you want to accomplish you'll be able to put the appropriate plans in place. You'll also be able to clearly communicate what you are doing, why, and what will happen as result of participation. In this way, you'll be able to manage expectations.

Step Two: Understand Francophone Contexts in Ontario, your community and your organization: Before beginning an engagement strategy with Francophone communities (or any community for that matter) it's critical to understand the history and contexts of that community. For instance one of our participants remarked that she didn't realize that many Francophones in Ontario are new Canadians from 29 of the world's countries that speak French. This can have huge implications regarding culture and beliefs. It's also important to investigate the history of your organization's past engagement strategies (if any) as these can colour (positively or negatively) future participant's expectations.

Step Three: Find people to work with: For many of us who don't have the capacity or comfort to work in French, this step is really key. Are there colleugues in your organization or networks that have the capacity to liaise with communities in French? Also investigate existing networks and initiatives that you could partner with. Take the time to establish a trust relationship with new partners as well as with the communities themselves.

We had terrific audience participation in this webinar thanks to HC Link's new webinar platform which includes a chat board. In fact, 78% of evaluation respondents rated opportunities for participation as excellent! Participants shared ideas for engaging Francophones and also shared what their organizations are doing to boost French capacity in the workforce. Unfortunately due to some technical challenges we weren't able to record the webinar, but the slides have been posted for you on our website.

 This blog post just gives you a smattering of the information that Estelle and I presented – there is lots more out there, including in these resources:

Working Together with Francophones: Understanding the Context and Promising Practices

Working Together with Francophones @ a Glance Part 1: Understanding the Context

Working Together with Francophones @ a Glance Part 2: Legislation and Institutional Support

Community Engagement @ a Glance

Have you experienced successes or challenges in engaging Francophone communities in your work? Please leave us a comment and tell us about it!

4348 Hits

Webinar Recap: Health Promotion Programming for Older Adults: Mental Health, Gambling, Substance and Alcohol Misuse

By Tamar Meyer, CAMH Resource Centre

Older adults (55 years and older) often experience health inequities and for this reason, have been identified as a target population within the Healthy Communities Fund Grant Program. According to a recent Statistics Canada report1, seniors (identified by Statistics Canada as 65+) are the fastest-growing age group in Canada representing 14% of the overall Canadian population in 2009 and expected to grow to between 23-25% in 2036. Between 2015-2021, and for the first time in the history of the Canadian population, a dramatic shift is expected to occur where the number of people aged 65 years of age and over is expected to surpass the number of children (14 and under). This dramatic acceleration combined with the health inequities that older adults often experience make it imperative to apply a health promotion lens to this “silver tsunami”. 


On March 28th, the CAMH Resource Centre, in collaboration with HC Link, held a two-hour webinar called: “Health Promotion Programming for Older Adults: Mental Health, Gambling, Substance and Alcohol Misuse”.Carolynne Cooper, social worker with CAMH's Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario’s Counseling Services and Marianne Kobus-Matthews, Senior Health Promotion Consultant, provided an overview mental health promotion concepts, and gambling, substance and alcohol misuse prevention strategies and programming directed towards older adults. Webinar participants and facilitators discussed risk and protective factors impacting the health and well-being of older adults.  The importance of social and emotional support to reduce social isolation, financial security, and senior-friendly environments – that is environments that are accessible, provide a sense of community, recreational activities, and a variety of different health promoting and prevention services and supports – were identified by presenters and webinar participants as key protective factors to promote the health of older people. 

Louise Daw, Healthy Communities Consultant with the Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC), also joined Marianne and Carolynne to share some information and resources highlighting the intersections between physical activity, and the mental health and older adults.  

To access the PowerPoint slides, click hereTo watch a recording of the webinar, click here.


Key documents:

Statistics Canada (2010) Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories: 2009-2036.  Minister of Industry: Ottawa.  Accessed March 29, 2012.
4821 Hits