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Description: The Calgary Distress Centre (in my home town) started out as a call-in center, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Until recently its only form of contact with distressed individuals was over their phone lines and that worked very well as a way for people to find someone to talk to in critical moments of personal crisis and, besides a human contact and a friendly ear, potentially receive suggestions and even direct referrals for additional assistance. Recently the Distress Center has added a chat interface option and more recently a text connection option. Initially they offered this service through their “ConnectTeen” service aimed at teens in crisis but are looking at expanding this to their other services. While there are concerns about the validity of non-face-to-face therapy, in crisis situations any contact that works is good. Putting aside for the present purposes the question of whether non-face-to-face therapy is viable think a bit about the huge potential that social media and the web in general could have on issues of mental health and wellness. Of course, we need a lot of data on these possibilities BUT to get data we also need to have possibilities out there to examine and evaluate. Now, if you have heard of the show Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneurs and product/service developers pitch their ideas to a panel of deep pocketed potential investors, imagine what an opportunity to pitch web or app-based ideas for promoting mental health and wellness might look like. With those thoughts in mind read the article linked below to see some bold thinking and actions in this area.

Source: ‘Money Supermarket for mental health’: Could the future of treatment be digital? Mark Rice-Oxley, Mental Health: The Upside, The Guardian.

Date: February 15, 2018


Links:  Article Link –

“…this [metal health] is a crisis that is ripe for innovation.” Isn’t THAT a fascinating quote? And how about this one: “We want to build a whole new global system for mental health. A platform with answers for people rich and poor,” (Jim Woods). I have written previously about the challenges associated with mental health when compared to our (In Canada) commitment to global health care provision. Moving large on mental health issues is a HIGE challenge. If you are interested in this new angle on mental health and related issues, then check out Zinc ( ) and start developing your pitch!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How is the way we approach physical health different than the way we approach mental health?
  2. How might we re-think how we talk about and think about mental illness (and mental health) in ways that would get us moving in some of the direction suggested by the Zinc initiative?
  3. What are some of the ways in which thinking about mental health is different than thinking about mental illness?

References (Read Further):

Links to Check Out (provided for interst not as a recomendation):


Rochlen, A. B., Zack, J. S., & Speyer, C. (2004). Online therapy: Review of relevant definitions, debates, and current empirical support. Journal of clinical psychology, 60(3), 269-283.

Cook, J. E., & Doyle, C. (2002). Working alliance in online therapy as compared to face-to-face therapy: Preliminary results. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 5(2), 95-105.

Sundram, F., Hawken, S. J., Stasiak, K., Lucassen, M. F., Fleming, T., Shepherd, M., … & Merry, S. N. (2017). Tips and traps: lessons from codesigning a clinician e-monitoring tool for computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. JMIR mental health, 4(1).

Sprenger, M., Mettler, T., & Osma, J. (2017). Health professionals’ perspective on the promotion of e-mental health apps in the context of maternal depression. PLoS One, 12(7), e0180867.

Grist, R., Porter, J., & Stallard, P. (2017). Mental health mobile apps for preadolescents and adolescents: a systematic review. Journal of medical internet research, 19(5).