Open Minds Across Canada 2011 Mental Health Symposia

on October 21, 2011

by Michelle C.

Did you know that you can strengthen your brain throughout your life much like you can strengthen a muscle?  It may sound unbelievable, but on Saturday October 1st three local researchers showed us how it’s possible.

For the third year in a row, we coordinated the Open Minds Across Canada Mental Health Symposium in Vancouver.  Open Minds is hosted by Health Minds Canada. Vancouver was one of 9 cities across Canada to hold the event.

All of the researchers did a great job explaining their research.

We learned from Dr. Tony Bailey that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder actually use different parts of their brain for certain mental processes.  For example, when people with autism see faces, a different part of their brain responds than in people without autism.


Next, Dr. Andrea Grabovac talked to us about how we can actually change the structure and function of our brain with mindfulness. She defined mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way, with intention, in the present moment, and without judgement. Mindfulness can strengthen the part of the brain that regulates emotion.  As a result, it can be used to help people recover from depression or anxiety.

Finally, Dr. Wendy Loken Thornton told us how we can improve our memory as we age. Her research showed that healthy eating and exercise, combined with positive social connections, can help preserve our memory. More specifically, certain foods are good for the brain, including fish, flax, walnuts, butternut squash, citrus fruit, red wine, and dark chocolate.  Mmm!

We all left the event with a new appreciation for our brains and a renewed motivation to do our best to keep an Open Mind!

Click here to watch the Open Minds presentations!


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BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.