Grant from the McConnell Foundation will advance digital mental health project

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Thanks to the generous support of the McConnell Foundation, HRI will move forward with a project aimed at helping Canadians make the best use of digital mental health tools.

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Previously, HRI announced the creation of a Framework to guide the development, evaluation, and regulation of digital mental health tools. In collaboration with experts from Harvard Medical School, the Framework for Evaluation of Mobile Apps for Youth Mental Health was designed to help decision makers determine which tools should be used and scaled with confidence in healthcare systems. While the Framework focuses on youth, it is also applicable to tools designed for adults.

Since its publication, the report has been widely distributed. Senator Stan Kutcher shared the report with all Canadian Senators and Members of Parliament as a background document to a Briefing Note as the country’s leaders consider how to address mental health needs of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. It has also been shared with clinicians, researchers, universities, government agencies, and mental health treatment providers across Canada.

In June, the McConnell Foundation awarded $98,000 to HRI to enable this Framework to be put into action.

Specifically, HRI will use the Framework to conduct a scientific review of current digital therapies aimed at addressing a priority health domain. The team will then identify which digital therapies hold the most promise for helping people.

To broaden the impact of this work, the team will convene a wide range of stakeholders and mental health experts to draft recommendations that will help to guide decision makers as they work towards improving policies and the regulation of digital therapies in Canada.

HRI and the McConnell Foundation share an interest in creating an environment that promotes the use of digital therapies that are both safe and effective to improve access to mental health care in Canada. To achieve this, digital mental health tools must be evaluated as rigorously as other medical interventions. We are grateful to the McConnell Foundation for supporting our efforts to ensure that Canadians have access to high-quality digital therapies, backed by science.