• Welcome

    Check out our promotional video for the 2016 Students in Mind Mental Health Conference and continue scrolling to learn more about the Students in Mind 2018 Mental Health Conference!

  • Who We Are

    Here is the executive team for this year's Students in Mind Mental Health Conference! Check out the bios below to learn more about the team!

    Alison Ross



    What's your story?

    U3 Neuroscience major with a world religions minor hailing from Vancouver B.C. I'm a sucker for trees, mountains, oceans and hiking...basically all things outdoors (I guess you can blame my B.C upbringing for that). I'm also a pretty big fan of food, traveling Music and sports.


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?


    The brain has always been something that fascinates me, especially with regards to mental illness. It was in an effort to become a better peer supporter that I found myself participating in SiM 2015; yet, two weeks later, after suffering a fairly severe concussion that triggered anxiety and depression, my relationship with mental health was completely reversed. I found myself repeatedly coming back to information gained at the conference to help navigate my way out of the ensuing darkness. This experience taught me that mental health (something that every single human has) is in constant flux: just because the last few days, weeks, or even years have been good does not guarantee the same going forward. Rather, achieving and maintaining positive mental health is something that requires attention and energy on a daily basis. SiM 2015 was essential for equipping me with the skills to care for my mental well-being, which is why I chose to get involved as Communications Director of SiM 2016. With this experience under my belt, I have chosen to take on leadership of the project for SiM 2018, it seemed like the best way to give back and come full circle.


    Favourite restaurant in Montreal?

    Probably Bon Vivant for a boozy brunch.


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    PSYC 302: The Psychology of Pain with Jeff Mogil hands down. Mogil is an amazing lecturer and this class honestly changed the way I look at healthcare, pharmaceuticals and science in general.

    Madeleine Derungs

    VP internal

    What's your story?

    U2, majoring in History and Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies (GSFS). I'm from London UK and Winnepeg MB. My loves include Taylor Swift, writing songs, and making things.


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?

    For a long time it felt like my mental health was controlling my life, but when I realized that I am not alone but in fact a part of a worldwide community, I began to take back the reigns. I was first involved with SiM in 2016, and it really felt like a big hug when I most needed it, from people who I felt understood me. I want other people to feel that hug.


    Theme song to your life?

    Long Live by Taylor Swift.


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    MUPD 201 - Business Fundamental for Musicians.

    Vithushon Thayalan

    VP External

    What's your story?

    I'm a U5 (?) Math & Neuroscience major from Toronto. A few of my favourite things are piano, photography and food.


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?

    Mental health wasn't really talked about too much during my upbringing. I imagine it was a combination of both the social stigma surrounding it and lack of knowledge around it culturally. It wasn't until I got to McGill where I really was able to start getting educated and expanding my knowledge in the realm of mental health. I find navigating my own mental health, although quite difficult at times, to be an empowering thing and I want to help others navigate their mental health in any way that I can which is why I decided to get involved with Students in Mind! I believe that this conference does good work in the local community and has the capacity to teach, help, and inspire others in topics surrounding mental health.


    What are you currently binge watching?

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine.


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    PSYC 311: Human Cognition and the Brain.  

    Juliana Keefler-Johnson


    What's your story?

    U2 Political Science Major, also studying History. I'm from Montreal QC but I've also lived in 3 other cities. I love baking (my cheese bread is on point) and playing the guitar. I also enjoy playing sports and going on hikes (see: getting lost in the woods)/


    Why are you interested in mental health/ involved with SiM?

    I never really understood what mental health or mental illness was until I started to get anxiety attacks in cegep. I felt very alone, my grades dropped significantly and overall I was really unhappy. I felt like I was the only one going through this experience. However, that all changed when I met people going through the same thing and finally felt comfortable accepting help from a professional. I don’t want people to feel alone or like they can’t go get help because mental health problems are shameful. Being involved in SiM helps me spread the word and feel like I’m helping others with their journey.


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    POLI 221: Government of Canada. Not because the content was particularly amazing, but the prof was adorable and came from South Porcupine, Ontario, which I will never forget.


    Favourite thing to do on a Saturday night?

    Depending on my mood….option 1) grab a few beers with friends and hit the town, option 2) chill at my house and play video game for hours

    Elise Chan



    What's your story?

    U4, studying cognitive science from Ottawa ON. One of my favourite activities is attempting recipes, but mostly just making a mess in my kitchen. I also love indulging in overpriced fitness classes, travelling, and playing sports.


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?

    I know first-hand how difficult and isolating the academic environment can be! I’ve noticed that as I become more honest and vulnerable about my own struggles, people are willing to reciprocate and share their stories. To me mental health is not an on or off thing, it’s something that is ongoing and fluctuating, just like physical health. I have to actively work to maintain good mental health and part of that is being a part of a community like SiM which share the same passion as me ❤️


    Theme song to your life? 

    Bootylicious by Destiny's Child


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    PSYC 302 - The Psychology of Pain




    Dalya Kablawi


    What's your story?

    U2 studying Anatomy and Cell Biology. I'm from Palestine, born and raised in Kuwait. I love listening to K-pop and driving around in car2gos (often simultaneously).


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?

    I’m extremely blessed to have such a wonderful platform to make tangible changes in the way mental health is portrayed and discussed on campus, through the Students in Mind Conference. Personal struggles have given me more of an insight into the internal conflict that unfortunately comes with reaching out for help. For students who don’t know how to ask for help, don’t think they should, or are convinced that it wouldn’t make a difference, I hope to design an accessible conference that will bring you some relief. I’m involved with this initiative because I know that it isn’t easy to talk about the battles that we, as a society, have been so conditioned to hide. I hope that, together, through this conference, we can all take one more step forward to an inclusive, stigma-free and most importantly, supportive community.


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    EAST 320: Second Level Korean


    Favourite thing to do on a Saturday night?

    You’ll find me driving (people) around the city/McDonald’s drive thrus/Costco blasting some Britney.


    Maddy Mak


    What's your story?

    I'm from Singapore and I'm a U3 major in Cognitive Science with minor (s) in Anthropology and IDS. Other than reading, playing volleyball and capturing happy moments with my camera, I find so much joy in making Spotify playlists. Seriously though, if you catch me in the library or cafe procrastinating, I'm probably discovering new music or trying to best reflect my current mental state in a playlist.


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?

    Coming from a country where stigma is prevalent and mental health related dialogue is virtually non-existent, I grew up not knowing how to react to relatives of mine who were suffering with mental illness. As a result of this, I entered my pre-teens ignorant to, lacking empathy towards and actively trying to shy away from the people in my life that needed support the most. I now fight for mental health because I feel like I have represented the source the problem. I have added to the stigma that is faced by mental health sufferers everyday and I have acted as a barrier to better understanding them. Initiatives like SiM are so integral because it provides an open and safe sphere for people to come together, regardless of their degree of mental health knowledge, to talk about something that affects us all. The opportunity to become more informed on these issues is a powerful one that should be afforded to everyone. I am so glad that I can, through SiM, help make these essential sources of understanding more accessible to the McGill community.


    Favourite restaurant in Montreal?

    Arepera Du Plateau ~ the passion fruit juice there is bomb!


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    PSYC 318: Behavioural Neuroscience 2

    Rishni Bhandari


    What's your story?

    U0 student from India, born and brought up in Delhi. I'm studying economics and psychology. Some of my favourite things include music, food, and just spending time with my friends and family.


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?


    I always felt that mental health was not discussed enough either because it was a taboo or simply because people just didn’t realize its significance. I joined SiM in the hope to learn more about mental health awareness and share my knowledge to help raise awareness and therefore make a difference. Just being aware of our mental health is so much more important than we think.


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    Social Psychology (PSYC 215) •


    Favourite thing to do on a Saturday night?

    You’ll most likely find me just having a chill night with the people closest to me at a place with great food



    Julia Caddy


    What's your story?

    UO Arts from Calgary Alberta. I'm currently planning to study Psychology and Communications. I love bullet journaling, performing, event planning, board games and eating chocolate <3!


    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?

    Because of my personal experiences with mental illness, it often feels like mental health defines me. However, today I turn my "struggles into strength" by using my personal experience to advocate for improved attitudes, education, and treatment of mental health in my community.

    Now that I'm at McGill, I want to do all I can to foster wellness and support so that we can all experience happiness and health despite the perfection oriented culture we're immersed in. SiM is one of multiple outlets where I am able to spread knowledge, conversation and resources to my peers who may need it or who may need to pass it on to someone in need.


    Favourite class taken at McGill?

    COMS 230 Communication and Democracy!


    What are you currently binge watching?

    As soon as I have time, Stranger Things.


    Taylor Burnett


    What's your story?

    U2 majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Indigenous Studies from London ON (No not the cool London). You cana find me accidentally sketching on important papers, photographing friends, cooking & baking, and trying (but failing) to beat my roommates at their favourite video games.

    Why are you interested in mental health/involved with SiM?

    After confronting my own mental health at University, I realized that mental health is something that everyone possesses regardless of its status. Everyone can - and should - discuss their mental health and strive to better it. Through my own journey in mental health it's become apparent that McGill's mental health services need to do better by their students, and student activism is a route of achieving that. I became involved with SiM to help end the stigma on campus, normalize these conversation and create a healthier McGill.


    Favourite class taken at McGill:

    ANTH 359 History and Theory of Archaeology. It sounds very dry but learning about the origins of a subject and how far it's come really allows you to understand your privilege as a student of said discipline. For example, 50 years ago I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to do field research in archaeology because I'm a woman!


    Favourite thing to do on a Saturday night:

    A Microbrewery and snacks with close friends. I definitely prefer somewhere where the music is soft enough I can actually make conversation.


  • Vision and Goals


    To Promote and Disseminate Knowledge

    We will provide participants with a basic understanding of mental health and mental illness, while also introducing them to alternate perspectives, lesser-known practices, cutting edge research and broader contexts.

    To Continue the Conversation

    Building upon years of progress and work within the McGill community and beyond, we will continue to expand the scope of discussions surrounding mental wellness and mental illness. This will lead to greater awareness, reduced stigma and will normalize the discourse regarding mental health.

    To Provide Practical Tools and Resources

    We will equip participants with the tools necessary to navigate McGill’s wellness resources, thus providing them the practical skills needed to maintain positive mental health, both individually and in their peers.

    To Empower Individuals and Unite Communities

    The aforementioned goals build upon each other, creating a staircase that leads to our ultimate objectives: empowerment and unity. General discussion leads to knowledge, and knowledge can then be translated to practical usage. It is this combination of all three actions that empowers students, allowing them to “climb the staircase” towards a more mental-health conscious, less stigmatizing and overall supportive community.

  • Volunteer Opportunities

    Interested in volunteering at this year's conference? Sign up here for logistics and publicity opportunities!

  • Participant Interest

    Fill out this form to receive more info about registering for SiM 2018!

  • Minds of McGill

    Student perspectives aiming to reduce stigma and create a mentally healthier campus.

    Oct 2017

    Recovery is a choice, every day. It is a challenge, every day. But I've been through the other side of recovery. That was denial, feeling completely paralyzed, every day. And the challenges of staying alive during that period makes the challenge of recovery worth the fight. So if even the mere thought to ask for help arises, take that chance. I've had friends reach out to me after my experience simply asking what it was like at the very beginning, the little changes and behaviors. And even if it turned out to be nothing of worry, or something else entirely, I feel so happy and proud of them for reaching out. If someone offers help, or expresses concern, take it seriously. Help can be the most terrifying thing at first, but don't disregard it, or isolate because of the concern. I can only give this advice now because I didn't take it before. That brought me to getting kicked out of university and sent to the hospital for over a month, and more months of outpatient programs. I was far and removed from everything that was important to me. Help can save your life.

    I also have to say something about McGill Mental Health in general. It is the most unsupportive infrastructure here and that is honestly shameful. I think that it has left a lot of vulnerable students hanging in the midst of their mental illnesses and disorders. The EDP (Eating Disorder Program) was shut down this year without letting anyone know. For me, the availability of a specialized eating disorder program was one of the reasons I felt safe and capable of coming back to school, and it just disappeared. That is absolutely not okay. I am privileged enough to have a private support system here, but I know that not everyone can say that. It is not acceptable to disregard those individual’s needs. But furthermore, the nonexistence of the EDP makes it so that anyone with the slightest idea that they may be struggling have nowhere to turn to. This feeds right back into the eating disorder because the last thing your ED wants you to do is seek help, acknowledge it, and try to do something about it.

    Nov 2017

    When I think of mental health I think of power, resilience, and awe. The fact people experience trauma, anxiety, depression, anything along those lines -- day in and day out -- while remaining strong, is something to admire. I have been through the gauntlet, but I also recognize that I am extremely privileged. I don't walk through life with the weight of historic and unending discrimination. I always had access to top-tier private health care, which saved my life when I was put into eating disorder recovery. I have two parents who are stable parts of my life and whose citizenship has never been threatened like many in the States right now. Yet, I STILL face difficulties and damaged mental health. We don't need to compare the validity of our experiences, but we do need to understand what intersectionality is, how it affects people's mental health, and how to advocate on the side of those that are struggling.


    When we are feeling blue, we tend to explain other things in a negative tone or in a sad way as well to confirm our feelings. However, remember nothing is completely black or white. There are so many possible ways to interpret one thing, and especially our experience is very subjective. When I am sad about something, I try to change a perspective and find different explanations. It is like finding something grey rather than completely black.



    When approaching people about your problems, what people feel most awkward about is YOU feeling awkward by what you feel. If you don’t judge yourself, the people that you trust and open up to won’t judge you either. Introspection can be powerful and it may be tempting to believe I am my own psychiatrist, but opening up to those around you can be even more rewarding. You want people to love you for you, not for the mask you are hiding behind.

  • Flashback to SiM 2016

    The fourth annual instalment of Students in Mind Mental Health conference occurred on October 1st & 2nd, 2016. Peer into the past and read about our conference schedule and even pictures from last year to catch a glimpse of what SiM is all about!

    Day 1- Saturday, October 1

    9:00 AM - 9:45 AM: Sign-in & Breakfast with Therapy Dogs

    Sign in and enjoy some delicious Fairmount Bagels for breakfast while enjoying the company of some lovely therapy dogs!

    10:00 AM - 10:30 AM: Speaker - Malek Yalaoui

    Malek Yalaoui is a McGill alumna turned social activist and writer. Using emails, poetry and diary entries from her time at McGill, Malek will explore the impact of university life on student mental health, including her own. She’ll end with some all important tips for maintaining your well-being at university!

    10:40 AM - 11:40 AM: Workshops (choose between)

    Mental Health 101:

    Given that participants come from diverse backgrounds and varying degrees of familiarity with mental health related topics, the first workshop will provide an overview of mental health, mental illness and stigma. Get ready for some engaging discussions, thought provoking activities and exciting new perspectives!


    Peer Support:

    Supporting a friend who is struggling with a mental health issues can be challenging. We want to help, and yet we don't always know the right thing to say or do. This workshop will allow participants to become better supporters by developing and refining your active listening skills through role playing.

    11:40 AM - 12:20 PM: Lunch

    12:30 PM - 1:30 PM: Panels (choice of one)

    A favourite among conference attendees in past years are SiM’s panel discussions! We bring in 4-5 experts with a variety of different perspectives to debate hot-button and often controversial mental health issues. Panels are aimed at stimulating dialogues not only between the experts themselves, but also with the students present. Choose between:


    Panel A - He Said/She Said: How do gender and mental health interact?​

    Panel B - Body and Mind: How are physical health and mental health intertwined?

    Panel C - From Ethics to Effectiveness: How are technological advancements changing the face of mental health awareness and treatment?

    1:40 PM - 2:10 PM: Active Breaks

    After a busy conference morning, it’s time for a break! Feel like stretching it out or doing some serious relaxation? Want to channel all that creative genius into an artistic masterpiece? Why not just let loose and dance like no one is watching? Choose between yoga, The Groove (dance), meditation, improv or kickboxing!

    2:20 PM - 3:00 PM: Speaker - Christophe Davidson

    End the day with laughter with comedian Christophe Davidson! Christophe has performed around the world, including at Montreal’s Just For Laugh fest. His speech will use humour to tackle stigma and explore the challenges he’s faced faced in dealing with depression and bipolar disorder, as well as the struggles of those around him. Learn more about Christophe by checking out his Montreal Gazette article!

    Day 2 - Sunday, October 2

    9:​00 AM - 9:45 AM: Sign-in & Breakfast

    Participant Sign-in and Bagel Breakfast

    10:​00 AM - 10:15 AM: Opening Remarks

    10:​15 AM - 11:15 AM: Panels (Choose one)

    We bring in 4-5 experts with a variety of different perspectives to debate hot-button and often controversial mental health issues. Panels are aimed at stimulating dialogues not only between the experts themselves, but also with the students present. Choose between:

    Panel D - McGill and Beyond: Do universities have a responsibility to foster and accommodate students' mental health?

    Panel E - Beyond Empathy: How should the principles of anti-discrimination be included in therapy?

    Panel F - Life can be a Trip: What role do recreational and alternative drugs play in the treatment of mental illness and in our everyday lives?

    Panel G - Putting Knowledge to Practice: How will advancements in neuroscience and genetics research impact the treatment and diagnosis of mental illnesses?

    11:​25 AM - 12:25 AM: Workshops (Choose one)

    Maintaining Wellness: With school, work, relationships and life in general, taking care of our well-being often takes a back seat. We know it's important, and yet we don't think consciously and intentionally about how to maintain our wellness very often. In this workshop we will discuss concrete strategies to maintain your mental health on a daily basis through building a wellness toolbox, recognizing when we are becoming unwell and learning how to identify and manage triggers


    Self-Determination: It can be difficult to stay motivated in a stressful and competitive work environment. Have you ever wondered why? This workshop explores self-determination theory, which looks at factors that contribute to motivation and overall well-being. Participants will learn concrete strategies to foster greater intrinsic motivation and autonomy in their daily life, including effective goal setting to support success and happiness.

    12:​25 PM - 1:25 PM: Lunch and Resource/Innovation Fair

    Explore all of McGill's wellness and mental health related groups and services! Learn where to get support on-campus and how to get involved with mental health at McGill. Plus, all groups and services will be showcasing the innovative side of what they do. Get ready to be inspired by creative and unique projects, ranging from new peer support groups to the latest in neurotechnology.

    1:30 PM - 2:30 PM: A New Frame of Mind

    The Transition Towards Integrated Psychological Services at McGill

    Based on community feedback and recommendations around how to improve access to our services and the student experience at McGill, Student Services is now offering integrated psychological services that no longer require students to self-select whether to go to Counselling or Mental Health Service. This is the first step in the transition towards a new psychological service delivery model and a single point of entry for all health and wellness services. Join us for an interactive presentation and Q&A with the steering group behind this initiative, to learn more about the harmonization of services, streamlining of processes, and how you can provide feedback during this critical transitional phase.

    2:30 PM - 3:00 PM: Speaker - Evan Berry

    The conference will end with an inspiring and empowering speech by Evan Berry, a McGill grad with an extensive history of peer support and mental health advocacy. Check out his valedictorian speech and get excited for SiM 2016!

  • Connect With Us

    Contact us with any questions about the conference day, registration or getting involved!