In an effort to enhance mental health supports for Albertans, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is partnering with Togetherall — a free, online network that offers anonymous, peer-to-peer mental health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Through the network, Albertans 16 years of age and older can share, connect and support others in a safe online community.
Members can interact with the virtual peer community at large or form their own smaller groups. Members have access to a variety of clinically validated, self-guided resources, including assessments, courses, self-help journaling and goal-setting tools. Members can also join group courses to learn alongside others interested in the same mental health topics, such as depression and anxiety.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how important mental health is to our overall well-being. That is why when the pandemic hit, the Alberta government invested more than $53 million to enhance online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction recovery supports for Albertans,” says Jason Luan, associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
“October 10 is World Mental Health Day and, as we collectively adjust to a new normal, we need to continue to prioritize taking care of ourselves and those we love.”
Clinical moderators — typically clinical counsellors and social workers — monitor the platform to help keep members safe, protect anonymity, and direct users to available and appropriate free resources provided on the platform or by AHS, such as Health Link 811, the Mental Health Help Line and the Addiction Health Line.
“Togetherall will give Albertans an opportunity to join an online community where people support each other in a safe and secure environment,” says Dr. Nicholas Mitchell, AHS senior medical director for Provincial Addiction and Mental Health.
“This network will connect Albertans with others during a time when we are physically disconnected. It is so important to maintain our social connections and this platform will provide a way for Albertans to connect with others from all walks of life. We know COVID-19 is impacting individuals’ mental health but we know, together, we will get through this.”
Albertans can sign up for Togetherall at www.ahs.ca/virtualmentalhealth. During registration, Albertans will be asked for their postal code, email address, date of birth and country of residence.
They will also choose an anonymous username for the platform.
Founded in 2007, Togetherall is a digital mental health and well-being company that partners with more than 250 organizations across public healthcare, post-secondary and employer sectors.
The company offers support to more than 50 million eligible individuals worldwide through its virtual peer-to-peer community support platform and online resources. Togetherall is not a crisis intervention tool, and does not offer one-on-one counselling or direct therapy.
AHS Provincial Addiction & Mental Health continues to work with Togetherall to ensure its clinical moderators are equipped to understand and support the needs of Albertans and, if required, direct them to Alberta-specific resources.
“People come to Togetherall for support with a wide range of mental health and well-being issues – from anxiety, depression, isolation and stress, to relationship problems and lifestyle challenges. The safety of members and clinical rigour is at the core of what we do and we have a network of trained professionals to provide 24/7 support for Albertans,” says Matt McEvoy, Togetherall’s senior vice president and general manager for North America.
As part of the contracting process, a full Privacy Impact Assessment was conducted by AHS and submitted to the Privacy Commissioner’s office to ensure compliance with Alberta privacy legislation. Information collected during registration is accessible only to Togetherall’s senior clinicians for the purposes of risk escalation. All personal data related to Albertans will reside in Canada.