Sessions & Topics 2021

Here you can find information about the session types and topics for the MINDS Conference 2021.

For information about the conference schedule, click here.

Mental health is an intersectional issue & MINDS aims to cover a range of important related topics. These topics will be presented as one of four different session types, each one hour in duration, ranging from being predominantly informational (workshops and panels) to more interactive (roundtables and discussion groups). Read more about the session formats & topics below.


Workshops were given by Dragonfly Mental Health.

These sessions are oriented towards academics at all levels. Read on for more information about the workshop topics!

Mental Health Literacy

Sessions: AWST, EDT

Speakers: Dr Wendy Ingram (AWST), Ms Sarai Guerrero (EDT)

There are many misconceptions about psychiatric disease: what causes it, who is at risk, and how it manifests. Increasingly we are understanding how immense a problem this is within academia. This workshop includes information about the prevalence of mental health illness in general and academic populations, an overview of signs and symptoms highlighting those seen in academic settings, and the science underlying the causes and treatments of mental illnesses.

Imposter Syndrome

Session: CEST

Speaker:  Dr. Olga Vvedenskaya

Imposter syndrome, or the feeling that you don’t truly belong, is very common among academics. However, the presence of imposter syndrome is not at all linked to one’s academic achievement record or the amount of effort put into science. In this workshop, we cover the definition of impostor syndrome and its prevalence in the academic population.  We provide an overview of symptoms highlighting those seen in academic settings, and we facilitate community discussion on how to overcome impostor syndrome in our individual lives.

Basics of Burnout

Session: PT

Speaker:  Dr. Wendy Ingram

When does situational or occupational stress become detrimental? What is the difference between Burnout and depression? This workshop will cover the prevalence and impact of burnout in academia, an overview of the burnout cycle and how to break it, and a discussion of what contributes to burnout and how academics can address it.


Panelists shared their stories and experiences relating to mental health with the audience. Read on for more information about the panel topics!

Speak your mind - diversity of experiences in academia

Sessions: AWST, EDT

Speakers: Ms. Emily King, Ms. Syma Ahmed, Dr Tara Dennehy, Miss Maysoon El-Ahmad (AWST), Dr. Sophie Prosolek, Ms. Olivia Ghosh-Swaby, Ms. Karen Tang, Miss Sophie Okolo (EDT)

Identifying as a member of underrepresented groups can come with experiences that are unique amongst peers and coworkers. This is an opportunity to hear some of those experiences in order to better understand diverse perspectives. In this session, you will have the opportunity to listen to the stories and mental health journeys in academia of individuals from minoritized groups. 

Focusing on people - career and mental health stories

Sessions: CEST, PT

Speakers: Mx. Linda Corcoran, Dr. Andrew Timming, Dr. Isabel Torres, Dr. Stefano Zucca (CEST),  Mr. Chris Pankewich, Dr. Ashley Perkins, Ms. Ifeoluwa (Ife) Adedipe, Dr. Danielle De La Mare (PT)

Career paths are often nonlinear, filled with unexpected challenges, and not as we originally envisioned - and that is normal! Navigating your own career path - at any stage - can be daunting, but listening to the experiences of others can offer perspective. In this session, you will have the opportunity to listen to the stories and mental health journeys from individuals at different stages in their careers in academia, from student to faculty.


Come together to discuss approaches to a specific question with both experts and the audience sharing their insights and experiences. Roundtable speakers introduce the problem, then opened the discussion to the audience to share their ideas on how to approach the problem.

How can we build a good student-supervisor relationship?

Session: AWST

Speaker: Dr. Shane Huntington

What can a student and a supervisor do to ensure effective communication and a productive relationship during the student's degree? A supervisor is the most important person for a student during their graduate career, and can make the difference between creating a successful program and a stressful one. Discuss communication techniques, resources, or other tips so that both student and supervisor can approach this important relationship thoughtfully and intentionally.

How can we start advocating for mental health in academia?

Session: CEST

Speakers: Dr. Amrit VenkateshDr. Marissa Edwards

What can you do as an individual to promote mental health awareness in academia? Mental health is often still stigmatized, and as academics we often feel the need to overwork ourselves, which can exacerbate mental health issues. In this session, you will have the opportunity to discuss approaches to normalizing the conversation around mental health in academia.

How can we address financial insecurities for grad students?

Session: EDT

Speakers: Mr. Tim Samuel, Dr. Emily Roberts

What can we (students, faculty, staff) do to improve financial uncertainties and insecurities faced by graduate students? Graduate students across the globe are often paid less than their local minimum wage, and funding is usually only guaranteed for a certain period of time, which may be insufficient to cover the full duration of the program. Uncertainties around finances can prevent students from thriving in their programs. In this session, discuss how we can advocate and make changes for graduate students experiencing financial insecurities.

How can we draft and implement a student-supervisor agreement?

Session: PT

Speakers: Mr. Martino Gabra, Ms. Sasha Marakhovskaia

What can an institution (department, faculty, etc.) implement to provide a good basis for a successful student-supervisor relationship? Discuss agreements or other tools that can be put into place at an institutional level to ensure that each student and each supervisor has important discussions early in their relationship in order to clearly establish expectations and lines of communication to set up both student and supervisor for success.

Discussion Groups

Our guest speakers shared experiences on a specific topic with the audience, and engaged people in discussions to inspire them to reflect on their own experiences and seek support if needed. The format was an introduction of the topic given by 2 speakers followed by an interactive section open to audience participation. A code of conduct was provided to create a safe space for participants. Read on for more information about the discussion group topics!

Academic stress triggers: reflecting on results from global survey on Mental Health among researchers

Session: AWST

Speakers: Ms. Andrea Hayward, Dr. Mary McMillan

In this session, the speakers will reflect on findings and insights from the CACTUS Mental Health Survey – a global survey on mental health and wellbeing among academic researchers. They will highlight academic stress triggers as indicated by the 13,000 researchers who participated in this survey and also touch upon what kind of support academic institutions could provide to help them cope and create a more nurturing work environment.

Overcoming workplace bullying and power abuse in academia

Session: CEST

Speakers: Dr. Marta Oliviera, Dr. Jaishree Subrahmaniam, Dr. Fiona Roberts

Share your own and listen to others’ experiences with overcoming workplace bullying and/or power abuse in the academic setting. We hope that this discussion can inspire those in need to navigate their own situations and seek support. 

Setting boundaries at work and striving for work-life balance

Session: EDT

Speakers: Dr. William Ju, Dr. Ruth Ross

Establishing and maintaining boundaries is an important but often challenging part of any workplace or educational setting. Share your own and listen to others’ experiences with setting or renegotiating boundaries at work, understanding others' boundaries, and striving for work-life balance.

Mental health during/beyond the pandemic

Session: PT

Speakers: Dr. Evelyne Deplazes, Dr. Neda Rashidi-Ranjbar

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all facets of our lives. Share your own and listen to others’ experiences with mental health during and after the pandemic, and with coping with loneliness as a result of the pandemic.

Special Session

Changing approaches to addressing academic mental health: current strategies, barriers and opportunities

Session: EDT

Speaker: Dr. Petra Boynton

The talk will provide an overview of ways different academic institutions have attempted to address the mental health of students and staff. It will note why many approaches have been unsuccessful, and the impact this has had, particularly during the pandemic. It will also focus on some ways universities and funding bodies might address mental health problems within institutions and on a global scale. Petra Boynton, PhD, is the author of Being Well in Academia (Routlege) and will share practical advice and a critical focus to consider ways of bringing change within academic spaces.