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Putting Mental Health First by Guy Barbeau

Digital Therapy are easier to come across, while the way of using them differs. Photo: Beacon

Gone are the days when you had to lie on a couch to talk to someone.

Discover accessible and effective digital therapy.

We hear about mental health in the media, talking with friends, co-workers and family. It’s all well and good to talk about it, but it’s a complex subject to understand. Mental illness affects 25% of the population in Canada, as well as the automotive world, but how do we recognize the signs and what is the best care to seek?

Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are the most common. As we already know, every year one in five Canadians faces mental health problems. But even worse, more than half of those suffering from depression and anxiety are afraid to seek help – especially if their condition still allows them to function. But even if they’re not in crisis, they’re suffering, and their quality of life is suffering as well. When we look at the statistics, we have to ask ourselves the question: are we really giving mental health the priority it deserves?

Care options available

It is important to know that people who suffer from depression or anxiety have many options for care, although most are unknown. The most common help is medication prescribed by a doctor. Because it is the easiest and most common solution, Canada has one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world, with 9% of its population using antidepressants. However, prescription drugs are not an end in themselves; and there are other proven approaches.

Completely different from medication, this approach is well accepted and has been proven to help people who are depressed or anxious. It is a form of structured psychological therapy that is called cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT. This highly effective therapy is well known in therapeutic settings and has been used as a reference for 40 years to treat a wide range of mental health problems.

Managing emotions for healthier outcomes

CBT is most effective when conducted by a licensed mental health professional. Through this therapy, you can identify all your negative or distorted thoughts, and then ask yourself how realistic these thoughts really are. Think about all those difficult emotions and behaviours that are ruining your life. CBT teaches you to recognize them, to understand the connection between them and what triggers them. And in the end, you manage to change the way you feel.

An exemple of the interface on which people can get online help. Photo: Beacon

In other words, CBT is made up of exercises that allow us to reinforce certain skills. These can be relaxation techniques, journals to record your thoughts, or worksheets to complete. All of these tools are only effective if you commit to following them regularly. CBT is there to help you better manage your feelings so that you can finally live a healthier and more positive life.

Digital Therapy: How to acquire lifelong skills in an affordable and accessible way

CBT is a therapy that ensures results. But it’s not its only benefit. When we think about therapy, we think of a couch to lie on and talk to someone. This form of therapy is different. You no longer have to sacrifice your free time to go to appointments. This therapy is online and offers all the convenience of today’s technology. It is called CBTi or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy over the Internet. However, not all CBTi programs are the same. According to clinically established evidence, the most effective is therapy led by a therapist who adapts it to your particular situation and modifies it as you progress. Only then is your mental health most likely to improve. Therefore, it is best to find out if the therapy is conducted by a licensed health professional.

Studies of the results from Beacon. Photo: Beacon

The skills you have learned after completing your CBTi program will help you to respond more positively to negative thoughts and emotions. This investment of time and effort will not be in vain for anyone who is struggling with worry and dark thoughts. They will have learned methods and acquired important proven skills that they will be able to rely on throughout their lives.

Quality group insurance plans such as those of the Corporation des Concessionnaires d’Automobiles du Québec (CACQ) offer this option, and although there is more than one TCCi program in Canada, those that have published results or are based on good clinical practices can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Programs that adhere to good clinical practice have demonstrated a reduction in symptoms in 80% of users, a result similar to that of face-to-face psychotherapy treatments or prescription medication.


Guy Barbeau is Vice President of Group Benefits and Annuities at WBL Insurance and Actuarial with more than 20 years experience in financial institutions in both commercial and personal finance. He is a Member of the Board of Directors and National Director of the Credit Institute of Canada and holds a MBA from Athabasca University as well as the CCP professional title.

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