Effectiveness of digital interventions in improving mental health during COVID-19: Evaluation of Wellness Together Canada
Mental health challenges affect all Canadians. Yet many Canadians lack access to mental health care services, with equity in access a key concern for specific groups due to gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, geographic isolation, and immigration status issues. The COVID‑19 pandemic is exacerbating mental health challenges and widening service gaps, especially among those in marginalized groups and those with pre-existing mental health issues, making it a critical time to provide tools that will improve mental health at the population level. Wellness Together Canada (WTC) was created in response to this unprecedented rise in mental health and substance use concerns due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, with funding from the Government of Canada. It is a mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada providing digital interventions and services at no cost. It partners with other digital interventions to be the home portal for access to digital interventions from 1:1 support, peer groups, and self-help tools. However, the effectiveness of this intervention has not been established. This project is required to address one of the crucial elements needed to help Canada address the effects of the pandemic and adjust post pandemic (Research area #9). This proposal will evaluate the impact of use of the Wellness Together on depression and anxiety trajectories among Canadians. We will use integrated knowledge translation throughout all stages and aspects of the program (development, implementation, evaluation) to ensure that the mental health needs of equity seeking groups and other stakeholders are addressed.