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What is the relationship between mental disorders and comorbid diabetes?

Jun 03
Answer from Dr. Sam Ozersky, Senior Consultant, University Health Network Mood Disorders Clinic and, CEO, Mensante Corporation.

Research has shown an increasingly clear relationship between diabetes and a variety of mental health issues (2018 Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines, Can J Diabetes 42 (2018) S130–S141).

With more than 6.7 million Canadians affected by Mental Illness and 2.2 million affected by Diabetes, the economic impacts to health systems and to the workplace are well established.

There are multiple reciprocal relationships in Diabetes & Mental Health Disorder Comorbidity:
  1. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can severely impair cognitive functioning.
  2. Diabetes is a risk factor for...


FeelingBetterNow.com®: A digital mental health platform for optimizing mental health in primary care

Jun 01
FeelingBetterNow.com®: A digital mental health platform for optimizing mental health in primary care Dr. Sam Ozersky | University Health Network - Toronto General Hospital

Presented at the 8th Annual E-Mental Health Conference
New Generations, New Services 

Canadian physicians lack a universal, standardized process to clinically address problems in patients with mental disorders. The current sub-optimal assessment and treatment planning results in poor outcomes for close to 80% of mental health patients in primary care.

FeelingBetterNow.com®, an e-mental health platform for assessment and treatment, was developed and piloted in a small population of patients from an addictions clinic and an automotive company EAP (N=16) with previously diagnosed disorders. They completed the DSM-V based assessment prior to their next appointment as part of a physician&rsquo...


New Book, “Mental Health in the Workplace” includes Chapter from Canadian Experts

May 15
 New Book, “Mental Health in the Workplace” includes Chapter from Canadian Experts Workplace Mental Health in Canada: Towards a Digital Future
Kathleen Qu and Sam Ozersky

Michelle B. Riba, Sagar V. Parikh, John F. Greden (Eds.)
Mental Health in the Workplace
Strategies and Tools to Optimize Outcomes
  • Discusses the management of workplace depression
  • Covers depression as well as substance use and misuse
  • Includes tips to serve business needs
This book offers a guide to better understanding models of workplace mental health, as well as best practices for mental health professionals, employee assistance groups, employers and employees alike. The cost of depression at the workplace is staggering, both in terms of absenteeism and productivity loss while at work, and in terms of human and family suffering.


Opening up about Mental health: Let's Talk

Jan 30
January 30th is Bell Let's talk Mental Health Awareness Day. First founded in 2010, the initiative has raised over $93 million for various mental health programs and initaitives across Canada. More importantly, the initiative has sparked over 200 million conversations about mental health.

Stigma, fear, and lack of support are temendous barriers to mental health support and receiving the right care. FeelingBetterNow is here to provide confidential, trustworthy mental health resources for companies and organizations seeing to support their employees. Starting 2019 right, we're joining Bell Let's Talk to bring support to those who need it most!

To learn more about Bell Let's Talk, click here.

To learn...


Challenges in Post-Secondary Mental Health Identification and Care

Dec 01
The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICMH) recently published a paper examining systemic issues in the postsecondary mental health sector. Stress (42.2%) and anxiety (32.5%) were among the most prevalent factors affecting students’ academic performance. Furthermore, the survey noted that 14.7% of students had a formal diagnosis of depression, which was a 47% increase from 2013.
Institutions report struggling with an increase in student psychopathology, severity of issues, and counseling service usage. Many counselors believe they do not have either the resources, or in some cases, the training necessary to serve the population of students presenting with significant psychiatric distress.
Counselling services are over burdened for the following reasons:

Consumption and Treatment Services replaces Overdose Prevention Sites in Ontario

Nov 05
Recent data shows that the opioids continue to claim lives in Ontario. Opioid related deaths have increased from 856 cases in 2016 to 1261 deaths in 2017, which is an average of 3 people per day in the province. Last month, the Ontario government announced that Overdose Prevention Sites will be replaced by “Consumption and Treatment Services,” with a new application process and standards.

The Consumption and Treatment Services sites will continue to offer life-saving overdose prevention and harm-reduction services. In addition, there will be enforcement and audit protocols, and a focus on connecting individuals to treatment services. The Government of Ontario will also create more withdrawal management services in high-need communities to improve access to addiction treatment services.



Depression and burnout among Canadian doctors

Oct 10
According to a national online survey of physicians and residents, a significant proportion of medical practitioners are experiencing mental health problems that can directly affect their performance.  Burnout, depression, and suicidal thoughts are more common than previously thought in this profession. Despite 82% of the respondents indicating a high level of resilience, 1 in 3 screened positive for depression and 1 in 4 for burnout with residents having a 95% and 48% higher rate than physicians, respectively. Male physicians were less likely than their female counterparts to experience depression.
Many of these doctors are high-achievers and perfectionists, overwhelmed by the systemic problems in the health-care industry and the growing amount of pressure to keep up with the latest trends in medical science. Even though...


Youth and Mental Health

Oct 10
The focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day is the mental health of adolescents. Adolescence and early adulthood are a time for major life changes for many people. These changes, coupled with the use of internet and technology, can lead to stress and mental health problems, particularly for those affected by conflicts and natural disasters. 50% of all mental health issues start before the age of 14 though many go undetected. Depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide among teenagers have become a major cause for concern.
Fortunately, the importance of adolescents’ emotional resilience and mental health and its positive impact on the society and economy is recognized. But there is still a big gap in providing support for those who struggle with distress and mental health issues. Successful...


Unacceptable Disparity Between Government Funding For Mental Health Compared With Physical Health Care

Sep 24
In a newly released policy paper Mental Health in the Balance: Ending the Health Care Disparity in Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) requested Ottawa to bring mental health care spending into balance with physical health care.
CMHA states that worldwide, mental illness accounts for about 23 per cent of the total disease burden, yet Canada dedicates only 7.2 per cent of its health-care budget to mental health. And, the need for mental health services and supports is growing.


OPP reviewing mental health support for its officers

Sep 17
The suicides of three officers in as many weeks has prompted Ontario’s provincial police  (OPP) to launch an internal review into the organization’s mental health support system.
Collaborating with the OPP on this review, research psychologist Dr. Julie Devlin outlined a three-part approach that includes enhancing, examining and evaluating resources available to members of the OPP.
Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Vince Hawkes said Thursday “The OPP recognizes that there is stigma associated with suicide and mental illness. Although we don’t have all the answers, and I certainly don’t have all the answers, we will continue to work together to break down the barriers and provide support.”

From The Globe and Mail


New government data on segregation of individuals with mental health conditions

Sep 10
The provincial Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) released information on Aug. 30, 2018.  The data of segregation at six provincial correctional institutions identifies nearly 220 of the 248 segregated individuals – or 88 percent – as having possible mental health conditions, being at risk of self-harming or demonstrating suicidal behaviour.

CMHA Ontario, Correctional Health Care Coalition and other stakeholders worked with MCSCS to improve mental health and addictions issues in correctional facilities.  Ontario enacted a new Correctional Services Transformation Act, passed in May 2018. The Act prohibits individuals with mental health issues or developmental disabilities from being held in segregation, limits the duration of segregation for all...


Mensante is Hiring!

Aug 23
Manager of Products and Services, FeelingBetterNow® (Full-Time Position) North York, Ontario

Mensante Corporation is looking for an account representative, and presenter possessing software and management skills for selling FeelingBetterNow® (FBN), a mental health management software that is used by large employers, insurers, and universities across Canada. The software’s purpose is to guide individuals experiencing mental health issues and serve as a decision support tool for mental health professionals.

For more information, please visit: www.feelingbetternow.com

To apply for the Position, please send your resume/CV and cover letter to Kathleen Qu at [email protected].

Job Description
1. Presentations

Reduced Funding for Mental Health in Ontario

Aug 08
Ontario’s newly elected Premier, Premier Doug Ford and his appointed team in Parliament have decided to scale back the previous Liberal Government’s promise of $2.1 billion in additional mental health services over four years.

Instead, $1.9 billion will be slowly filtered out over 10 years. Despite Ford’s government’s promise to match the $1.9 billion from federal funding for mental health, the scale back still cuts $335 million of funding for mental health per year, reducing a $525 million annual injection to merely $190 million.

Addictions and Mental Health Ontario already stated a need for at least $2.5 billion in new funding to mental health and addictions over the next four years to meet existing needs. Changes in funding can potentially put  Ontario further behind in...


Financial Incentives Can Improve Mental Health Engagement for Workplace

Jul 16
Healthy habits and choices seem logical and readily available these days, however it still seems impossible to take that step towards improving your overall wellbeing. In the workplace, many considerate employers offer benefits such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), counselling services, Wellness programs, and mental health support programs such as FeelingBetterNow® to make support available for employees. Employees often have the option of using different services, taking Health Risk Assessments, and completing mental health assessments for themselves and family members. Even with evidence-based tools available at their fingertips, it is often observed by EAPs that utilization of their program is low (around 3%).

The problem isn’t that the programs aren’t valuable nor is it that people don’t...


Mobile Health Equally Effective for Patients with Serious Mental Illness

Jun 18
A study published in Psychiatric Services found mobile health interventions to be just as effective as a clinic-based group intervention for people with serious mental illnesses.

Dr. Ben-Zeev, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, and colleagues compared traditional clinic-based interventions to mobile-delivered mental health intervention to examine the differences in treatment, satisfaction, symptom improvement, recovery, and quality of life. The study examined patients suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Participants were randomized into mobile or traditional treatment intervention for 12 weeks and were a part of a 6 month follow up.

It was observed that patients in the mobile health treatment group were more likely to begin mental health treatment...


Mental Health Awareness Month

May 01
Mental Health Awareness Month
May is International Mental Health Awareness Month. 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from a mental health condition, but 5 in 5 are affected by mental health. This month, we come together to give voices to those who aren’t able to speak up and start conversations to break down the barriers of mental health.
Here are some of the events and resources available across Canada and the US for mental health:
CMHA: Mental Health week – May 7 to 13, 2018: It’s more than being happy all the time. It’s about feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life, and managing life’s highs and lows. Everyone deserves to feel well, whatever their mental health experience. And we all need a support system to lean on.


Workplace Wellness

Apr 11
Mental health is becoming a growing topic in the workplace. Employers are acknowledging the value and importance of workplace environment for employee mental health. A strong sense of community, self-value, and comprehensive support are key decision factors for employees on how they approach the company, their work, and whether they want to continue investing their time in the company’s vision.

In the past, companies offered comprehensive insurance plans and some offered Employee Assistance Programs. Today, employers are looking at better, more comprehensive support services that offer evidence-based and trustworthy tools specifically for mental health. However, services such as counsellors or therapists are often unaffordable, especially for smaller companies.

FeelingBetterNow® is an innovative...


Mensante Corporation qualified to OTN Vendor of Record Arrangement for Substance Use Disorder Solutions

Mar 08
Mensante Corporation qualified to OTN Vendor of Record Arrangement for Substance Use Disorder Solutions After a rigorous review, the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) qualified Mensante as a Vendor of Record (VOR) for substance use disorder solutions. Mensante’s mental health and addiction service, FeelingBetterNow®, is now available through the OTN VOR arrangement – https://otn.ca/innovationcentre/substance-use-disorder/ – all of Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and their hospitals, community resources, addiction centers, Family Health Teams, healthcare providers, and all Ontarians within a LHIN’s catchment area.
Mensante’s FeelingBetterNow® is an innovative online mental health and addictions service currently available to over one million Canadians.
By way of...


Mental Health and Nutrition

Feb 15
Mental Health and Nutrition There’s no denying the brain is the epicentre of our operations. That being said, the brain takes up about 20% of your daily calorie intake (around 300 calories) just from thinking and keeping the rest of the body working!
To keep your brain working well, it follows that the food we eat and the quality of the food we eat can affect how the brain works. Just like a top of the line luxury car that cranks and groans if you don’t give it premium gas, your brain can also suffer if the only fuel it gets is low quality junk food.

Studies have shown that your gut bacteria, the microbiome that live in the intestines, have a strong influence in your health. Some studies show that when people take probiotics (supplements or food that contain good bacteria), their anxiety levels, perception of stress, and mental...


Mental Health in the New Year

Jan 04
With the coming of a new year, people are quick to talk about new years’ resolutions about their physical health, habits, work, and relationships. This mentality can also be applied to mental health solutions.
Mental health is the vital centre to all our day to day operations. Good mental health conveys resilience and a healthy method for working through the daily ups and downs. Here, we’ve listed a few simple things that can get you started on taking care of your mental health.

Resolve to Love Yourself
You are your biggest critic and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to satisfy yourself. Take a quick minute to reflect on all that you do and all that you’ve done. You deserve to feel good about yourself and to be kind to yourself. Taking an extra minute to breathe...


Mental Health in Canada: A review of 2017

Dec 21
The year 2017 has been very exciting for mental health. With so many programs and organizations celebrating milestones in 2017, we take a look at new initiatives started this past year that will shape the mental health landscape moving forward.
May 1 – 7th was Mental Health Week 2017. This year, the Center for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) held a week-long initiative to spread awareness about mental illness and share stories of recovery. Following the theme of “Finding Our Voice,” inviting mental health visionaries to share their journeys and promote peer support.
A review of the week can be found here: CAMH Mental Health Week 2017...


Ontario is First Province to Provide Government Funded Psychotherapy

Nov 02
There are three ways of treating mental health problems:  self-management, psychotherapy and medication.  
Up to now psychotherapy has not been covered by any province in Canada.  The cost of one psychotherapy session ranges between $125.00 – 300.00 per session.   And in most cases several sessions are required. This cost effectively prevents access to psychotherapy for most citizens. Several of our blogs have addressed the need for publically funded psychotherapy.  
The costs of short term, long term disability, random absences, productivity loss and hospitalization related to mental illness are spiraling.  People with mental health problems who need psychotherapy are suffering unnecessarily. 
In an October 2, 2017...


The Power of e-Mental Health: HR Reporter

Oct 23
CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada writes “E-Mental Health is poised to fill a critical void.”

Recently, the National Journal of Human Resources Journal contained an article written by Louise Bradley, the president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). The MHCC’s mandate is to oversee the strategic direction of mental health in Canada, to raise awareness of the mental health and wellness needs of Canadians, and to catalyze collaborative solutions to mental health system challenges.
Ms. Bradley states “The growing awareness around mental health and the application of new technologies are intersecting to create fresh opportunities to address this concern through e-mental health, particularly in the workplace”.


Smoking and Mental Health

Sep 18
Compared to the general population, smokers are twice as likely to suffer a mental health disorder. Despite the high smoking rates, a very low percentage of smokers are begin assessed and treated for other mental health disorders. 

Many of us are aware of the relationship between smoking and other physical illnesses. While 20% of non-smokers suffer a mental disorder, the evidence is now clear that 40% of smokers suffer from at least one mental disorder. One study shows that people with psychiatric disorders consume 44.3% of all cigarettes smoked in this country.

Most of the time smoking is treated only as a substance use disorder. Very often other co-morbid mental health disorders are missed. Strategies that address smoking in mental illness, and mental illness among smokers would seem to be important...


Addressing Suicide among Youths

Sep 08
Annually, September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). This year’s theme was ‘Take a minute, change a life.’

The onset of 70% of mental health problems occurs during childhood or adolescence. They require counselling and therapy as soon as possible and close to home. Children and youth are suffering while waiting a year or more to access long-term counselling and therapy.

In Ontario, the government has made some recent strides towards prioritizing children and youth mental health by funding the teaching of administrators how to recognize when kids need mental health supports, they have also invested in making schools more mentally healthy.  They also announced in early 2017 the intention to invest in co-locate services in...


National Institutes of Health Study on PTSD using Biometrics

Aug 08
“Although many people have heard of post-traumatic conditions such as posttraumatic stress (PTS), post-concussion syndrome, and depression, the onset and progression of these disorders remain poorly understood,” Verily Mental Health Data Lead Menachem Fromer and Dr. Sam McLean, director of the Institute for Trauma Recovery at University of North Carolina, wrote in a blog post on Verily’s website.

Critical gaps in the understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) still hinders our ability to fully support those who have gone through a traumatic experience such as assault survivors, service men and women, and combat veterans. In an ambitious study of PTSD, the University of North Carolina is working together with Google’s Verily Life Science and MindStrong on the Aurora Study, funded by $21...


Supporting Refugee Mental Health

Jul 20
Supporting Refugee Mental Health

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHC) found that immigrants generally arrive with better mental health than the Canadian-born population, a phenomenon referred to as the “healthy immigrant effect.”
Refugees and migrants escaping war-torn countries are greatly afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or other mood disorders. Both refugees and immigrants face language and access barriers to mental health services. Failure to receive early treatment leads to more expensive emergency department visits and/or hospital admissions. Additionally, the quality of life greatly deteriorates the longer individuals don’t receive...


Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada’s Mental Health System: Economic Considerations

Jun 14
The need to invest in Mental Health is no longer in dispute. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) first released the report on Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in 2013. In March 2017, the MHCC released Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada’s Mental Health System: Economic Considerations to identify areas for strategic mental health funding to improve the mental health of Canadians.

Chronic underfunding has exacerbated the enormous toll mental health takes on people in Canada, both in human and economic terms. In 2015, the $15.8 billion spent by the public and private sectors for mental health care represents only 7.2% of Canada’s total health spending, measuring well below Canada’s G8 peers. This leaves many unmeet needs on services. In 2012, an estimated 1.6...


Exploding Demand for College and University Mental Health Services

May 31
A study published in the Toronto Star May 29, 2017 indicates the demand for youth mental health services is exploding.
A major survey of 25,164 Ontario university students by the American College Health Association showed that between 2013 and 2016, there was a 50-per-cent increase in anxiety, a 47-per-cent increase in depression and an 86-per-cent increase in substance abuse. Suicide attempts also rose 47 per cent during that period. 
On average, the number of counselling appointments increased by 35 per cent.  Because of budget constraints, McMaster University psychiatrist Dr. Catharine Munn said, “We have line-ups out the door and down the hall despite hiring more counsellors, we’re drowning.”
The study found there has been a 344-per-cent...


Is telepsychiatry the new normal? Wait times in Canada are unacceptable.

Apr 18
Telehealth provider MDLive  has become the first company to offer telepsychiatry and other virtual mental health services in all 50 states. MDLive Chief Behavioral Health Officer Dr. John Sharp said “I think it’s going to be one of the new norms; you can’t imagine banking without ATMs or online services anymore”.
A study at Fraser University indicated that the median wait times for psychiatric treatment in Canada was 16.8 weeks in 2009. The delay for treatment in 2009 far exceeds what physicians would consider clinically reasonable, said Nadeem Esmail, Fraser Institute Director of Health System Performance Studies.  Simon Fraser did a study in November 2016 of wait times for 10 specialties but psychiatrist was not amongst them...


Mental Health First Aid – Is it Enough?

Mar 01
At least 1 in 3 Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives and at least 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem in a year (Mental Health Commission of Canada – MHCC). Recently businesses, hospitals, and first-responder groups have begun to recognize the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace and attempt to address this through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.

First developed in 2001 at the Australia National University, MHFA was adapted to Canada by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in 2010. MHFA training is an immersive 12-hour course for recognizing mental health concerns and how to approach them. The course uses the acronym “ALGEE” as a way to cover the bases in a mental health intervention.



Passive Monitoring: Developing New Technology in Mental Healthcare

Feb 14
Currently, the market is inundated with tracking apps where users must look at the information and decide what to do with it.
New technology is being developed for passive monitoring, which occurs in the background of a mobile device, tracking movement, the frequency of messaging and more.
Passive monitoring has the potential of improving mental health care in a variety of ways, including detection of early warning signs of mental illness. Consider the following situations.
Someone has stopped making social connections via their mobile devices, the app would alert key members of the care team.
Someone is suffering depression.  With passive monitoring, if someone were in bed and not moving for long periods of time, the app would flag a care provider...


Depression Costs the Country Billions in Lost Productivity. It's Time we started Helping people Get Back To Work

Jan 17

Written by the Chairman of Mensante's Clinical Advisory Board:

Work is a significant part of daily life. Whether or not a person feels comfortable on the job influences their overall well-being—and our society’s economic health. For anyone suffering from depression, work-related productivity is a key indicator of health status, one we can’t afford to ignore.

Depression-related absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees are present for work but less productive due to their illness) have staggering economic consequences: absenteeism alone is estimated to...


Canada Must Fund On-line Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - Just a few cents a year for each citizen!

Jan 06
As we entered 2017, Mensante received an email from the Australian government titled “Setting New Year’s Resolutions for a better 2017." The message referenced several Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses sponsored by the Australian government for many disorders covered by FeelingBetterNow®.  Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is entirely evidenced based. Medications and psychotherapy, primarily CBT, are the only evidenced-based treatment for mental health disorders. 

Before including any tool in our Self-Help Toolbox recommendations, Mensante’s Mental Health Professional Board members use the tool, rather than simply reading an outline or course summary. While the course summaries looked appropriate and we respect the work we have the reviewed developed in Australia...


Holiday Stress and Accessible Self Care

Dec 15
With the holidays around the corner, everyone is buzzing about a vacation, a break from work, getting ready for social gatherings, and even foreseeing what work may lie after the break. It’s an exciting time for everyone. With the heightened emotions, the inevitable sense of stress arises. One does not have to be a first responder or work in the healthcare field to experience the stress that may be building from finishing projects before the break, financial stress of the holidays, or even having to see relatives who you distinctly remember pinching too hard.

It may be the holidays, but that doesn’t mean the mind or body really get a break. It in these times that self care is important and preventative measures are needed to prevent holiday burnout. A recently released article on Online Mindful Stress...


Rethinking Depression: A new drug for depression

Nov 17
The treatment of Depression was revolutionized when Prozac was approved as the first antidepressant by the US FDA in 1987. Antidepressant drugs work on the neurotransmitters of the brain by inhibiting certain signals and increasing the activity of other signals. The popular belief surrounding depression is the Monoamine Hypothesis: that depression is the result of underactivity of monoamines, the specific neurotransmitters that are responsible for different functions in the brain. The effect antidepressants were having on people made sense in this hypothesis: brains with underactivity of monoamines get treated with monoamines, and the result is a happier person. However, a long standing problem with the hypothesis is that antidepressant medication can immediately raise levels of monoamines however the symptoms of depression take on...


Genetic link between Depression and Cardiovascular Disease

Oct 17
“Depression is much more complex than most people think, and it includes dysfunction at multiple biological levels, from genes to brain regions, and blood circulating through the body,” says Professor Bernhard Baune, Head of Psychiatry at the Universtiy of Adelaide.
Dr. Braune and his team recently published a systematic review of genes in relation to depression in the brain in the journal of Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Specifically, the research identified the gene PXMP2 to be a potential candidate that plays a key role in linking depression and cardiovascular diseases.
PXMP2 plays a role in the structural support of peroxisome, which break down fatty acids in the body and turning them into energy for the body.
Dr. Braune explains PXMP2 is seen to...


Ontario Students in need of more accessible mental health resources

Sep 27
80% of 18 to 24 year olds in Ontario are registered in colleges or universities. It is around this age bracket that many mental health concerns first begin to appear. The Ontario University and College Health Association (OUCHA) conducted a survey on over 25, 000 students attending Ontario colleges and universities in spring 2016. The major findings are as follows:
  • 65% of students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety some time within the last 12 months
  • 13.7% seriously considered suicide some time within the last 12 months
  • 46% felt so depressed that it was difficult to function some time within the last 12 months
  • 26.1% of students reported some diagnoses or treatment of a mental health concern within the last year
Counsellors see the constant daily struggles faced by students...


Back to School: Mental Health of Educators

Aug 22
School is just around the corner. At the forefront of this season are advertisements about back to school supplies and academic articles about the stress and mental health concerns of students. Often left behind are the mental health needs of educators and their support network.  Scarcely found in research are reports on the needs of teachers and the prevalence of mental health concerns in the profession.

In 2015, the American Federation of Teachers released a survey reporting the Quality of Worklife among educators. The survey found that over 78% of educators expressed overwhelming levels of stress from the workplace yet only 17% of teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. This provides a glimpse for understanding an important contributor to students’ academic success: teachers’ mental...


Ontario Government Addresses PTSD Among First Responders

Jul 13
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can arise following the experience or witnessing of a disturbing or distressing event. People who suffer from PTSD can experience mental, emotional, and physical stresses that become highly debilitating and impair the person’s ability to function in social or family life.

Among Canadians, the prevalence of PTSD is about 10% Canadians over the course of their lifetime. Across Canadian First-Responders, this rate doubles to 22% (Center for Suicide Prevention, 2015). This year alone, Canada has seen 8 tragic deaths across first-responders. Four paramedics and four police officers have died of suicide across Canada – and these are the ones we know about.

In April 2016, The Ontario Government responded by amending the Workplace...


Research suggests our capacity to increase productivity by learning to control the part of our brain most essential to motivation.

Jun 09
Using a new brain imaging strategy, researchers at Duke University shed light on our potential to become more motivated and more productive if we can learn to control the part of our brain,  ventral tegmental area (VTA), most essential to volition.
Scientists took a first step in understanding how to manipulate neurotransmitter circuits involved in volition using thoughts and imagery. 
In the study, participants were placed in an MRI scanner and asked to generate feelings of motivation -- using their own personal strategies -- during 20-second intervals. Participants weren't able to raise their VTA activity consistently on their own.  However, when the scientists provided participants with neurofeedback from the VTA, presented in the form of a fluctuating thermometer, participants were...


Research suggests depression is a systemic disease affecting the entire body.

May 18

The results of a study conducted by an international team of researchers indicate depression is more than a mental disorder as it can be considered a systemic disease affecting our entire body. Results suggest that oxidative stress plays a role in depression and that antidepressant activity may be mediated via improving oxidative stress/antioxidant function.


This may explain co-morbidity between depression and a number of diseases including cardio-vascular disease and cancer, and why people suffering from...


Workplace Stress Management Made Easy with FeelingBetterNow

Mar 28
Stress at work may be one of the few guarantees in life, aside from death and taxes. A 2010 survey found that over 1 in 4 people (that’s 3.7 million Canadians), considered most days to be ‘quite a bit’ or ‘highly stressful’, with the majority attributing work issues as the leading cause. Teachers unfortunately are not exempt; data from the Ontario College of Teachers in 2015 indicated that nearly 2 in 5 early-career teachers are concerned about job security, and 1 in 5 did not find their workload to be manageable. Stressful working conditions are also the second most commonly cited reason for leaving the teaching profession, according to a 2005 survey (source: Professionally Speaking, June 2006).


Mental Health Commission of Canada releases new report studying implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

Oct 30
On October 15, 2015 the Mental Health Commission released its Interim Report on the Implementation of National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. 
Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) President and CEO Louise Bradley said “This week, 500,000 Canadians will not make it to work because of a mental health problem or illness. By 2041, the cost of lost productivity due to mental illness is estimated to be $16 billion every year;” and she added, “by improving the management of mental health in the workplace productivity losses can be decreased by as much as 30%”
Preliminary findings include:
  • Participating organizations have achieved 65% of the specified elements in The Standard at the interim phase in the project;Read more...

Screening for Mental Health on its own will not change health outcomes

May 05
The web is full of online mental health assessments.   These assessments differ in a variety of ways; some require the individual to pre-identify their problem area, some are not clinically based, some are free, some don’t identify the severity of the problem, and some of the sites offer general information about mental health problems. All the assessments have one thing in common; they do not link the assessment to any care plan.   There is no immediate link to a personalized clinically based action plan for self-care or collaborative care with a mental healthcare profession. Basically, you are just left hanging.
Don Thomson, President of SOS Resource Group, which specializes in analyzing health, wellness and disability management services, says “an assessment that tells you have a...


Identifying Molecular Markers for Major Depression

Apr 30
Studies over many years have shown the importance of early intervention in treating mental disorders.  More attention now is being placed on identification of the early warning signs of a mental health problem such as poor concentration, irritability, difficulties in decision making and social withdrawal.  
New scientific studies are showing we are closer to finding tests and imaging that would reveal depression biomarkers and potentially allow for very early identification of predisposition to depression.
Researchers at University of Oxford found that the sequencing of the amount of mtDNA and mean telomere length—two components of the genome suspected to be associated with adverse life experiences—revealed a significant association between major depression and the...


Psychotherapy in Canada: "What is not insured, is simply not accessible"

Apr 10
Psychotherapy in Canada: "What is not insured, is simply not accessible"

I recently read an insightful letter by Dr. Alain Lesage, MD, MPhil, written to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), regarding the lack of accessibility of in-person psychotherapy for many in Canada, due to the lack of coverage for the cost of those services under our publicly funded health care system. You can read his full letter here, although you may need to have subscriber access to do so.

Dr. Lesage made an excellent point in noting that the need for medications for mental health treatment in Canada was covered, while the need for psychotherapy was not; this is according to a 2012 Statistics Canada survey on community mental health. You can read the report on that study here: http://statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2013009/article/11863...


Large-scale Canadian Study Shines Light on Individuals' Mental Health Information Preferences

Jan 05

Spoiler Alert: Not everyone needs to or even prefers to obtain information about mental health management from in-person care provider sources!

A recent large-scale study with over 1,000 participants, authored by members of the Mobilizing Minds Research Group at York University was designed to identify which channels and formats of information were most likely to stimulate young adults to take a proactive role in their mental health care and achieve best outcomes. The results showed indicated that maximal impact could be obtained by a combination of books and workbooks recommended by a mental healthcare professional and an active new media online approach to education, self-assessment, therapy recommended by peers. All groups indicated they preferred information about alternative ways to reduce anxiety or depression rather...


UK Minister of Health Encourages better Mental Health Management on the Web

Dec 01

Speaking at a conference in November 2014, Norman Lamb, the Minister of Health in the UK said the current system of in-person treatment must be augmented to include web-based treatment, including computerized web-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as part of a new government strategy for how mental illnesses are dealt with by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Allowing people to bypass traditional GP referrals to get help via the internet or over the phone would encourage hundreds of thousands of patients to seek treatment. He encouraged the use of online treatment including cognitive behavioural therapy, apps, counselling and peer support networks.

Minister Lamb’s comments highlight the importance of meeting young people where they are – on the web and on mobile devices. He also...