Taking Charge Presentations – June 20th, 2015

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Conference Synopsis:
8: 35 am Emcee: Bill Macphee
Bill shared his personal experience. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 24, Bill struggled with his illness for several years, going through 6 hospitalizations, countless medication & therapy as he trudged to road to recovery as a result of medication, family, and community support.

9:00am Panel Discussion: Diagnosis Critical – Learning you have Schizophrenia
Chair: Dr. Michael Sarin, MD – Associate Professor University of Toronto, Program Physician, UHN/Toronto Rehab Institute
Panelists: Larissa Fleurette – author of Becoming Silver Girl
Dr. Mayce Al-Sukhni, PharmD
Deputy Police Chief Michael Federico – Toronto Police Service

Speakers shared both personal and professional experience of what patients go through when a schizophrenia diagnosis is delivered to them; denial, distrust of medication, confusion and usually initial adverse reactions to new medication. The importance of a support network, belief in a higher power, and working through therapy and medication were also discussed and success stories presented.

Some takeaways:

  • Diagnosis can be tricky and finding the right medication is a process
  • Medication adherence is a concern that was discussed from many angles: police, pharmacist, psychiatrist, person living with schizophrenia.
  • Police are often the first to be called during a psychotic episode – responsibilities, roles, and training// Community Treatment Order Program: benefits, challenges, enforcement // The Ontario Mental Health Act// Vulnerable Persons Registry// Diversion Program//Police & hospital employee communications & protocol
  • Challenges re: family involvement and parent/child privacy
  • Continuity of care from inpatient to outpatient


11:00am Panel Discussion: Charting Treatment
Chair: Dr. Samim Hasham, PharmD, Owner of Morrish Pharmacy and Satellite Pharmacist for CMHA (Toronto) and ACT Program at Scarborough Hospital
Panelists: Marvin Ross, Parent, Author & Founder/Principal of Bridgeross
Dr. Joseph Geraci, PhD, St. Michael’s and CAMH – IMPACT program – Pharmacogenomics
Dr. Gary Remington, MD PhD , Professor at UofT, Deputy Director Research & Education at CAMH Schizophrenia Program

Major forms of medication can be broken down into categories of major tranquilizers, neuroleptics and antipsychotics. This discussion focused on the spectrum of medication (1st Generation, 2nd Generation, 3rd Generation drugs) available for schizophrenia treatment along with interactions and side effects. Newly emerging trends in the medical approach to treating schizophrenia were also shared.

Some takeaways:

1:15pm Panel Discussion: Living in Recovery
Chair: Katie Robinette, Executive Director Healthy Minds Canada
Panelists: Rachel Cooper –Peer-to-peer support
Dr. Amit Rotem, MD – Nicotine Dependence Clinic and Youth Addiction & Concurrent Disorder Service, CAMH
Martin Sumner-Smith, Sr Advisor, Life Sciences & Healthcare at MaRS Discovery District Diane Marshall – Executive Director: The Residences of 1425 Bayview

This discussion, as the topic states, focused on living in recovery; the importance of strong social networks; peer-to-peer support; supportive living; day programs; apps and wearable technology; and programs to help with substance use and abuse such as tobacco replacement therapy and smoking cessation.

Some takeaways:

  • Socialization is important for a meaningful life – above and beyond peer support
  • Friendship and a social network are important for those that have been living with schizophrenia for a long time
  • Differences between friendship and peer support and the importance of setting boundaries
  • Online resources and apps can help connect people to other people or counselling
  • Quitting smoking needs to be accomplished effectively and safely – and is of special importance to the mental health community due to the way above average numbers of smokers
  • Quitting smoking can reduce the cost and dosage requirements needed re: psychiatric medications BUT – at the same time – they often require higher dosages of nicotine replacement therapy
  • Quitting smoking may also exacerbate the negative side effects of their schizophrenia medication. Perhaps these challenges could be discussed.
  • Some interesting work in wearable tech:
  • EDA (Electrodermal Activity) leverages sensors on the skin that detect changes when someone experience excitement or stress (whether physical, emotional, or cognitive) www.empatica.com
  • A team from the UC San Diego is using a novel device called a “LifeShirt” – a computerized vest that continuously monitors the patient’s movement, measures hyperactive and repetitive movements, and collects data on respiration, heart rate and other physiological measures.
  • Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand – developed a downloadable app and wearable technology scarf that allow people to hear voices and understand what that experience is like.
  • A new research project led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, is pioneering the use of wrist-worn sleep sensors and smart phone applications to prevent relapse in schizophrenia.
  • Dr. Amit Rotem’s Presentation Slides

2:25pm Panel Discussion: Healthy Living
Chair: Purple Yip, MDiv Family Worker & certified psychotherapist, Ont. Schizophrenia Society Panelists: Pam Diggins, Founder & Teacher at Rootsnshoots Family Yoga
Mami Ishii, Co-founder, Naturopathic Doctor, Wellness Consultant, Integrative Mental Health Centre of Toronto
Pat Jacklin, CPA CMA – Goodlife CFO
Wende Wood, RPh –Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist

This discussion focused on various ways to stay healthy in recovery: Wellness, yoga, fitness training, and exercises were all discussed in relation to staying on a healthy path that should be customized for each person’s individual needs.

Some takeaways:

  • Benefits of Yoga re: mental health – “healthy mind/healthy body”
  • Poses and movements in yoga and their corresponding mental health benefits (anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc.)
  • The social benefits of gym membership and benefits of physical activity to mental health
  • Strategies for countering lack of motivation to go to the gym/do yoga/work out
    Strategies for effectively communicating with your pharmacist and strategies for asking for help
  • Various drug interactions with over-the-counter drugs (anti-histamines, decongestants, etc.)
  • Tips for understanding lists of ingredients in your medications and understanding drug interactions re: other medicines, alcohol, and smoking
  • Pam Diggins’ slides
  • Mami Ishii’s slides

3:30pm Wrap Up Speaker: Dr. Tayyab Rashid, Ph.D C. Psych.

Dr. Rashid’s wrap up involved a brief discussion on mindfulness and its positive implications on stress reduction.


Video highlights