New online program helps those manage depression, anxiety

Brian Comer, Minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health. (Healey photo)

HALIFAX: Nova Scotians with mild to moderate depression or anxiety can now get free online coaching and skills development to help them cope.

The province has expanded an agreement with Tranquility, a program that helps people experiencing depression and anxiety better understand their emotions, thoughts and behaviours and build skills and coping strategies. People using the program are supported by a coach who checks in on their progress and offers ongoing help and motivation.

“Providing better mental healthcare means offering help that is readily available when and where people need it,” said Brian Comer, Minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health.

“Many of us will experience some depression or anxiety in our lives. Having resources at our fingertips to help us manage in the early stages will help promote mental wellness and keep people healthy. I’m happy to be able to bring this made-in-Nova-Scotia program to people across the province.”

Until December 6, Tranquility has only been available by referral through primary care providers or the Mental Health and Addictions Intake Program. More than 150 Nova Scotians have benefited from the program since it was launched in March.

People can access the cognitive behavioural therapy program 24 hours a day, seven days a week at .

Participants keep a journal of their responses to situations and events and practice new skills through educational modules, interactive tools and one-on-one coaching over messaging, phone or video.

The program was co-created by a Nova Scotian, Joel Muise, who had experienced social anxiety and wanted to provide people with more options for care.

It was developed at Volta Labs, a Halifax-based innovation hub, with input from clinical psychologists, including co-creator Alissa Pencer, and people who have experienced depression and anxiety. Tranquility is part of benefits carrier Green Shield’s health services.

Annual costs will be based on uptake and are anticipated to be between $340,000 and $510,000.

“As someone who has struggled with mental health and with finding the right care to meet my needs, I am thrilled to see this program now being made available to everyone in need. I started with the goal of leveraging technology to bring the same skills that helped me overcome my mental health challenges to more people.

“Six years later, it’s incredible to know we’ve built something that is helping so many people in my community dramatically change their lives – and that we can now help so many more.”
     – Joel Muise, Co-founder, Tranquility

“We are always looking for new ways to support Nova Scotians. The Tranquility program adds to the e-mental health programs that are already available to help Nova Scotians build mental resilience and positive well-being. We are happy to be able to launch yet another program that will give Nova Scotians the opportunity to access care and support 24/7 at a time and location that is convenient for them.”
     – Jenna MacQueen, consultant, policy and planning, mental health and addictions program, Nova Scotia Health 

“Since Tranquility’s virtual program was first introduced, we’ve seen incredible outcomes for Nova Scotians looking to better manage their mental health. Not only have clients commented on how easy the material is to learn and apply, but many report significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety or depression after completing the program.

“By making these simple yet effective tools available to all Nova Scotians, we can help more people take meaningful steps towards improving their mental health.”
     – Stephanie Sellars, coach, Tranquility

Quick Facts:
— the program is available to all Nova Scotians 16 and older with mild to moderate anxiety or depression; people do not need to be referred
— people participating in the program can book one 30-minute phone or webcam appointment with a coach each week
— the government invested $6.4 million in e-mental health tools in fiscal 2022-23, including $757,000 in federal funding
— expanding e-mental health services is part of the Province’s Action for Health plan