Health and Community Services
January 29, 2018

Newfoundland and Labrador First in Canada to Launch Innovative e-Health Technology for Mental Health

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has launched Therapist Assistance Online (TAO), an innovative e-health technology providing timely access to evidence-based care and treatment for adults with depression, anxiety and substance use problems. Newfoundland and Labrador is the first province in Canada to launch the program. It allows people seeking counselling to access services when they need it, where they are, including in their own homes.

The TAO platform is a flexible set of clinical resources used by mental health and addictions counsellors to help meet the needs of clients. TAO pairs online education materials and scheduled contact with a counsellor through a computer, tablet or smartphone. People begin with a visit to a local community clinic where they are assessed for TAO. Clinicians can offer counselling through TAO entirely online, in combination with face-to-face and online sessions, or as part of group therapy. TAO also provides ongoing training and consultation support to clinicians.

TAO is a clinically proven technology with results showing a significant reduction in anxiety and depression, improvement in overall mental health, and a greater sense of well-being. Research also shows that it is as effective as usual face-to-face treatment. The program, already being used by students at Memorial University now being introduced into the wider health care system, has the capacity to treat up to 18,000 clients. At this time, it is being offered at 15 clinics throughout the province. For information on the service in each region, residents can call the Health Line at 811.

In The Way Forward: A Vision for Sustainability and Growth in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Government committed to transform the way mental health and addictions services are delivered. The province continues to support this vision through the implementation of Towards Recovery: The Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Therapist Assistance Online is a cutting edge e-health technology and is an excellent example of how we can use technology to overcome barriers to mental health treatment. The program has had positive success with post-secondary students at Memorial University and we are now excited to offer this service across the province. I thank the four regional health authorities for working with us to increase mental health services and supports for people living in our communities.”
Honourable John Haggie
Minister of Health and Community Services

“We began using TAO at Memorial in 2015. Unlike other e-mental health tools, this tool has depth and breadth which means it is useful to a wide range of clients. More importantly, improvements in the mental health of clients using the tool is generally more effective than traditional face-to-face therapy with as little as a quarter of the counsellor time required. In other words, we have found that the program yields better results while costing less. By freeing up counsellor time we are able to serve many more clients.”
Peter Cornish, Associate Professor and Director
Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, Memorial University

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Learn More

Towards Recovery: The Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador - PDF Icon

Report Card: The First Six Months - PDF Icon

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Media contacts
Emily Timmins
Health and Community Services
709-729-6986, 693-1292

Peter Cornish
Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, Memorial University

2018 01 29                              1:20 p.m.