On Sun., Oct. 2, I hosted a Forum on Brain Health in River Heights. Members of the community were invited to come together for a discussion on how we can improve the brain health of Manitobans.
The forum was well attended as we gathered to hear from our panel of experts and share experiences.
Dr. Bruce Holub, professor emeritus of nutritional science at the University of Guelph, spoke first to talk about nutrition and brain health. He described the important role of two long chain omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, in brain function. He mentioned that these fatty acids must be obtained in the diet from fish, seafood or as supplements. Dr. Holub pointed to increasing evidence that many Canadians are deficient in DHA and EPA and emphasized that ensuring sufficient levels of DHA and EPA can lower infant mortality, increase early childhood neurodevelopment, decrease violent actions and may aid in improving brain health in ways that could result in decreased mental illness.
Bonnie Bricker, mother of the late Reid Bricker, spoke of changes needed to decrease mental illness and to decrease suicides. Her ideas include employing peer support workers, employing case managers to help people navigate our health system, and changing legislation to create improved communication between health care professionals and members within a person’s circle of care.
Dr. Andrea Piotrowski, president of the Manitoba Psychological Society, spoke about the importance of improved public support for psychological services to enable better access for those in need of such support. She also spoke about the successes achieved by psychologists in addressing brain and mental health issues.
The last panellist, Dr. Laurence Katz, medical director of child and adolescent mental health at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, talked about the need to address issues of early childhood — particularly the development of secure attachment between parent(s) and their children, if we are to improve brain health and decrease mental illness.
In all, with many comments and questions from the audience, it was a remarkably insightful afternoon. There is much work to be done to create a system of support for those who are affected by mental illness. It will take all the wonderful people who work on the front lines as well as every Manitoban to work together and create sustainable and effective approaches to health and wellness and to our health care system to produce optimal brain health.
Thank you to our panellists and to all who attended. Do you have a suggestion about how brain health can be improved in Manitoba? I would love to hear from you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org