The Winter Update from
Mood Disorders Society of Canada
The Mental Health Virtual Assistant (MIRA) is an intelligent mental health navigation chatbot. Led by MDSC, in partnership with the University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, Dalhousie University, AI4Society, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Digital Hub for Mental Health, have developed a mental health system navigation machine intelligence chatbot and are evaluating its feasibility and effectiveness.

As technology advances, how we access the right mental health resources and knowledge for our personal needs has also evolved. Today, in order to sort through the wide array of information that is out there, finding the trusted information, service or support that will be the most beneficial to our personal needs and preferences should not be a lengthy, frustrating and confusing process.

MIRA will help you do this. MIRA connects with people where they are, whenever they need it. The chatbot will serve as an information broker, supporting mental health literacy and linking to evidence-based self-care tools, in addition to helping Canadians find local, regional, and national mental health services and programs. It will seek to complement existing services, as there is no replacement for personal support and services.

Through our pan-Canadian collaborative approach, MDSC has brought together dozens of national and regional partner organizations to work together on developing this navigational tool which leverages some of this nation's leading AI experts together with mental health organizations, professionals, caregivers, government representatives, and importantly, persons with lived experience. This is truly a collective effort and patient-centric.

Our chatbot is currently being tested by a multi-disciplinary team of experts, and once completed, we will be launching in the coming month with the first phase targeted towards healthcare workers and their families. The chatbot will recommend resources to clients selected through a validated resource portal (rather than the open Internet), named the MIRA Portal, to ensure resources recommended are viable and of quality.
Stream 1 - Supporting Health Care Workers and their Families
Health care workers have been facing significant challenges during the pandemic. They have increased levels of anxiety, burn-out, depression, PTSD and moral injury. No one goes through these issues alone - and protecting and caring for our families is crucial. Our prototype is dedicated to supporting healthcare workers and their families, with the goal of expanding services Canada-wide.
  • Offer Canadians an easy-to-use tool to find the right mental health information, programs, services, and resources to address their mental health needs.
  • Provide the right resources based on what clients have identified they need, to ensure people are connected to the right service effectively and efficiently.
  • Facilitate expansion of collaborative partnerships and direct engagement among mental health providers from the public, private, and voluntary sectors.
  • Build strong partnerships among mental health providers from the public, private, and voluntary sectors.
  • Develop a trusted, nationally expansive tool, which draws upon pre-assessed, high-quality resources - reviewed by members of a multi-disciplinary --- 30+ member Expert Advisory Committee.
Offer a resource library that is continuously checked for quality by subject matter experts.

Get engaged and help grow this collaborative resource. We are actively inviting organizations to join our collective efforts. Join the team as an organizational partner, corporate sponsor, volunteer or apply to be on our Expert Advisory Committee. We all have a role to play in mental health. If you are interested in becoming engaged in this innovative health care navigation technology, contact us today.

MDSC, with support from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund, is proud to announce our newest program for Veterans and their Family Members.

Improving Veterans Wellness is a new program to assist Veterans and their family members. It is well known that social engagement and connecting to others improve our sense of overall well-being. We offer companionship calls which that are available for senior Veterans, provided by a youth chatter volunteer. The project also provides peer support training for Veteran and Veteran family members. MDSC also offers a wide array of mental health resources. Veteran and Veteran family peer-to-peer calls are also available for Veterans of all ages.

To learn more about this new and exciting program and to access these resources, visit: or send an e-mail to
We are proud to officially launch a new resource section entitled What Sleeping Better Feels Like. Sleep is one of the three main pillars of wellness along with nutrition and exercise.

The importance of good sleep and its interconnectivity to mental health is often underestimated. MDSC conducted a national survey with the purpose of understanding the sleep behaviours and perceptions that Canadians have about sleep. Our national sleep and mental health survey presents a summary of study results, followed by a detailed analysis. It is clear, many Canadians are having problems with their sleep. To view the report, please Click Here
Canadians have had an increase in sleep-related problems since the start of the pandemic and these health issues are a serious concern to our physical and mental well-being. Our website now includes sleep education, tools, resources, printable information and interactive videos.

We have also developed a Sleep Guide to Maintaining Wellness which illustrates the importance of sleep, how it impacts your body and mind, and the potential impacts of a lack of sleep. It details the common causes of sleep issues, and how to address them.

We have also provided links to other great Canadian sleep organizations that offer valuable information and tools. Please avail yourself of these and visit these Canadian resources.

You can visit the page here:
As we are all aware, depression impacts millions of Canadians, and this affects us when we are everywhere, including at work. In order to support all Canadians, we have worked hard to create new training resources to address Depression in the Workplace. This easy-to-use program is free and provides common-sense information that will improve the wellness of your organization. Our workplace training program and resources allow MDSC to continue to support Canadian workplaces on a national level.

Download and use the new workplace training and strengthen your team. For convenience, managers and staff can take it on their own anywhere, or use it for workplace seminars, lunch and learns and corporate training.

You will also find our detailed Mental Health in the Workplace resource book, filled with links to tools to support the needs of your organization and business. There are printable resources, the anti-stigma EITR program and helpful links that can be used in your workplace on our website.

Please visit the new webpage here:
MDSC is inviting you to get involved and join the Defeat Depression Mental Health Campaign.

Sign up and take part from anywhere in Canada this spring. Choose your own personal activity and fundraising goal; walk, run, hike, bike, swim, kayak or do any other activity you love for mental health. This spring, be part of the country-wide movement to take action for mental health. Invite your family and friends to join you.

You can register and participate anywhere in Canada or you can join one of the many community events in locations across the country that raise funds in support of local mental health programs.

By registering for the national campaign, your efforts will support MDSC work, mental health research and programs that are available to all Canadians and organizations across the country. 

Defeat Depression is a great place for you to take action that directly helps those impacted by mental illness and mental health issues.  

We need you to get involved. Now is the time to register. It’s easy, and together we can make change happen.

Follow Defeat Depression on Social Media
The MDSC Peer and Trauma Support Systems (PATSS) training team has been very busy delivering their 2-day virtual peer support training course. Not only did they train a wide range of peer support workers in Canada, but participants joined in from South Africa, Belize, the United States, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

The latest 2SLGBTQ workshop, led by Christine Newman, consisted of peer support workers from the military, health care, government, mental health organizations, and Police Services.

Recently, PATSS leads Syd Gravel and Brad McKay, along with Dr. Barbara Anschuetz released their latest publication Slay the Toxic Dragon – Police Leadership Impacting Member Wellness.
Throughout the year the National Police Wellbeing Service in the United Kingdom, known as Oscar Kilo, continued to enhance its programs and expand on its peer support training. We are proud that our 2 PATSS Team Leads helped set up their training. The PATSS program was also honoured to train 2 former Canadian Olympians who are setting up peer support for Olympic athletes.

The PATSS program is available in both English and French. Here are the links for training dates available in 2022.
The international Elephant in the Room Anti-Stigma program is an easy to use high-impact, low-cost, customizable program that fights stigma!

Hundreds of workplaces, schools, colleges and universities, government departments, police forces, first responder agencies, community organizations are eliminating the stigma against mental illness and supporting mental health and wellness. Join the program and take a firm stand against stigma.

Click here to see how this program will help your efforts or contact us at:
Canadians are witnessing our health care system strained and the mental health of Canadians being significantly affected. We must unite together and improve the mental health system to align it with the increasing needs of our citizens. MDSC is committed to improving the lives of those impacted by mental illness.

We continue to work with and encourage the government to prioritize a collaborative approach to re-envision how we can tackle mental illness and improve the accessibility of mental health care for all Canadians. Addressing mental illness takes a national community-centred approach using innovative solutions that better engage community mental health organizations and persons with lived experience. Together we can support innovative approaches and create real change.
To re-envision how we address mental illness and improve mental health in Canada, we are calling on the government to:

  1. Establish an annual mental health fund that would be available to mental health NGOs. Funding would support developing, replicating and expanding the availability of programs, services and supports, across Canada to assist mental health organizations to deliver crucial resources to lessen the burden on an already strained primary healthcare system.
  2. Support research and innovation on new advancements in treatments, improve accessibility and ensure that there are no barriers for any Canadian to the treatment that works for them to recover from mental illness.
  3. Implement policies for direct patient involvement to ensure collaborative research to ensure that research related to mental illness is made in consultation with Canadians who have lived experience. No decision should be made without consideration for those most impacted.
The NYAC team is looking forward to another year full of growth and advocacy.
Coming to a High School Near You
The MDSC National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC)  is currently expanding their team to include a new high school subcommittee to support projects that are informed by local needs. The team is looking forward to the new opportunity to work with younger peers and eventually run in-person initiatives.

The NYAC are still actively recruiting core advisory members from around the country and volunteers interested in leading initiatives in their own high schools. Anyone interested can apply here or send them an email with any questions ( Volunteer hours can be provided to all students.
Project Blue Podcast
Around the corner, you can look forward to the launch of the council’s new podcast - Project Blue! They have finished recording their pilot episode and are keen to keep the mental health conversation going with new guests and informative interviews.

Keep an eye out for the release by following them on Instagram (@ProjectBluePod) or reach out at

Glo Fitness Launch
Finally, the council eagerly anticipates their long-awaited, and tirelessly planned launch of Glo Fitness - an accessible and inclusive physical and mental health initiative for younger individuals.

They will start by going live with social media (Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn) and their science communication blog in the next couple of weeks. Then, not long after, they hope to be offering free virtual workout classes for youth around the country.

If you are good at translating research articles for a general audience, passionate about busting harmful fitness myths and combating misinformation, or if you would be interested in leading movement classes send them an email at
As Omicron and other COVID variants impact the workplace landscape, research-based insights are increasingly critical to workplace wellness strategies. The new research paper sponsored by Mood Disorders Society of Canada and Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) spotlights key facts on the scope of economic turmoil, work sectors facing high degrees of stress and burnout, and the scope of unaddressed mental health needs.

MDSC and MHRC are working with our national and regional partners to support the workplaces of our country. We wish to do this by sharing policies and practices that are showing positive results to support mentally healthy employment environments. We began by researching for best/ promising practices internationally and have finalized the Workplace Mental Health Strategies-A Search for Promising Practices report. Read more here.
Please take (and share with others) this short (5-10 minute) survey where we will ask what your organization may have implemented to help with the mental wellness of your workplace. We depend on your submissions so that we can assist workplaces that may not have the programs that you have. Together, we will share and support each other to improve workplaces and reduce mental health risks.
Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) was launched in 2001 to provide people with mood disorders, their families and caregivers a strong, cohesive voice at the national level on issues relating to mental health and mental illness. MDSC has evolved to become one of Canada's best-connected mental health NGOs and aims to improve access to treatment, inform research, shape program development and government policy to improve the quality of life for people affected by mood disorders. The Society fulfills its mandate through an active partnership approach that engages like-minded organizations in the public, private and voluntary sectors. MDSC is engaged on an ongoing basis in a wide range of projects and initiatives designed to support the inclusion of persons with disabling mental illnesses in Canadian society and it has taken a lead proactive role in public policy and program development in many capacities on the national stage.
We are proud to present our MDSC Organizational Profile, which highlights our programs, educational resources, national campaigns, research activities, tools and supports for Canadians. This booklet offers a comprehensive overview of how MDSC is working diligently at developing and providing effective mental health resources for all. We are especially proud of our success in collaborating with partners to reach as many people as possible.