A world-renowned mental health platform with over 250 organizations partnered is now making waves in Albertan communities. Togetherall is a peer-to-peer online community that allows Alberta residents to connect with others in an environment that is monitored 24/7 by mental health practitioners. The platform also offers free monitored courses and other mental health resources, which are available to all Albertans age 16 and above. Since October 2020, over 11,200+ Alberta residents have engaged in the Togetherall platform, which demonstrates its ability to reach large populations of people. The platform also allows users to remain anonymous, which ensures a comfortable, safe space for individuals in every stage of their mental health journey.
Togetherall’s partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Alberta Government comes at a time of need, as statistics showed Albertans’ mental health ranked lowest amongst all Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic (Mental Health Index Report, 2021).
AHS Provincial Addiction & Mental Health works alongside Togetherall to ensure clinical moderators are informed and equipped to support the needs of Albertans (AHS, n.d.). Moderators can also direct individuals to Alberta-specific resources like the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 2-1-1, the Addiction and Mental Health Helpline and suicide prevention support.
Togetherall’s Vice President of Partnerships for North America, Nicole Misura, comments on the benefit of Togetherall for Albertans, “We [Togetherall] empower individuals to anonymously seek and provide support in a safe and inclusive online space and we help individuals connect to other resources available to them in their care pathway. 88% of Alberta members of the Togetherall community report feeling less isolated since joining Togetherall and 89% report that the community has helped their overall wellbeing.”
Togetherall’s 24/7 online format allows Albertans to easily access support anytime they need it and Alberta residents can register in a matter of minutes. In 2017, CMHA National reported some young people waited up to a year or longer for any kind of in-person mental health treatment and were not satisfied with the treatment received.Togetherall’s platform allows for flexibility, decreased travel and wait time for wellness resources and reduces unnecessary time spent out-of-home.
COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions are causing isolation periods for individuals across the province and limiting access to mental health resources.
Misura says Togetherall, “[uses] anonymity and encourages an inclusive environment, [which] really help to engage individuals who perhaps are not comfortable [or unable] accessing service through other means.”
Another issue imposing on Albertans’ access to wellness resources is the negative stigma surrounding mental health. Individuals often feel a sense of guilt or shame regarding mental health problems which prevents them from finding treatment. Togetherall is working to break the stigma by encouraging Albertans to talk about their hardships in the online community, in addition to in-person or virtual help.
“Stigma is very real for many people. Togetherall’s anonymity is one of the top reasons that our members tell us that they come to Togetherall – it gives them the comfort and the freedom to be able to get support within a safely monitored environment. We often get members who are first exploring their mental health concerns. In fact, 55 per cent of our members tell us they have shared something mental health related for the very first time within the Togetherall community,” said Misura.
As Albertans continue to manage mental illnesses during these unprecedented times, the most effective way to end the stigma and support peers is through recognition, advocacy and kindness. It is important that as a community, individuals struggling are heard, uplifted and guided to proper resources.
Misura reminds Albertans that, “we have to acknowledge that we are all unique – We are all at varying stages in our mental health journey; we have different preferences on how we want to access service and communicate; and experience different levels of stigma. Therefore, we need different entry points and kinds of mental health support.”
For more information about mental health and resources in Alberta, visit https://alberta.cmha.ca or https://togetherall.com.
If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please call 211 (in Alberta) or your local distress line.
Alberta Health Services. (n.d.). Virtual mental health network now available to Albertans. Alberta Health Services. Retrieved May 9, 2021, from: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/Page15657.aspx.
Mental Health Index. Morneau Shepell. (2021, April 21). Retrieved May 9, 2021, from: https://www.morneaushepell.com/ca-en/mental-health-index.
Togetherall. (2020, November 9). Togetherall secures $10 million investment from FPE Capital. Cision. Retrieved May 9, 2021, from: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/togetherall-secures-10-million-investment-from-fpe-capital873436490.html#:~:text=Togetherall%20provides%20millions%20of%20people,day%2C%20365%20days%20a%20yea.
Wait Times. CMHA National. (2019, May 23). Retrieved May 9, 2021, from: https://cmha.ca/wait-times-2.