Dr. Elaine Greidanus, Faculty of Education professor in the Master of Counselling and Master of Education Counselling Psychology programs at the University of Lethbridge, is one of a team of North American scholars engaged in timely research in the face of a global pandemic. When team leader Dr. Peter Cornish (Memorial University of Newfoundland; University of California, Berkeley) received a grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to investigate Stepped Care 2.0, an approach to mental health treatment he developed, he wanted Greidanus on his team because of her career-long interest in interdisciplinary collaboration and technology-based mental health options.

Stepped care evolved from the recognition that not all clients who seek mental health supports need the same type or degree of assistance. As opposed to lengthy, in-person counselling sessions, for example, being directed to self-help literature, workshops, or other resources might be sufficient. In stepped care, clients and professionals work together to design individualized treatment strategies that can be stepped up or down as needed.

“Dr. Cornish expanded on this original approach,” says Greidanus.

Stepped Care 2.0 is centred on collaborative practice and the use of technology to enable people who are looking for help to find the level of care tailored to their needs.”

The CIHR grant Cornish received was to study the implementation of Stepped Care 2.0 in Newfoundland, Labrador, and Nova Scotia. For her part, Greidanus will investigate the perceptions health care providers have of the model as they apply it in practice. She will also examine the implications of teaching Stepped Care 2.0 in counsellor education programs. Her findings will be published as a chapter in the second of a series of three books, the first of which, Stepped Care 2.0: A Paradigm Shift in Mental Health, was released this spring.

Technology-based mental health services have been slow to gain traction, but things changed when COVID-19 paralyzed the nation and triggered a surging mental health crisis. Overnight, mental health providers were forced to transition to distanced client care, and the Canadian government scrambled to provide immediate and safe access to help for people in crisis. Cornish and his group, Stepped Care Solutions, already familiar with e-mental health and coordinating multiple disciplines—psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and more—were poised to respond. Funded by Health Canada, and in partnership with Kids Help Phone and Homewood Health, they launched Wellness Together Canada, a free, online service offering comprehensive mental health and substance use supports, including access to educational materials, self-guided programming, apps, and one-on-one counselling via videoconference, phone and text.

“The original CIHR-funded research is being adapted to pivot in response to changes in care systems due to the pandemic,” says Greidanus. She is accustomed to adjusting her research as it evolves.

Because my interest is in applied research, I work with community partners often, using community-based methods to identify goals and outcomes that are important for us all.”

Greidanus’s research carries significant implications for the future. “Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, even the idea that online counselling was possible was received with great skepticism by most counsellors and mental health practitioners,” she says. “We’ve been forced to overcome that hurdle. Technology is going to be a component of mental health care in the future, no matter what.”

Book: Stepped Care 2.0: A Paradigm Shift in Mental Health here
Website: Wellness Together here
Article about Wellness Together Canada and Stepped Care Solutions here

Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan


Related story links to Faculty of Education Graduate Studies and Research:
Interprofessional Education and Community-based Approaches to Health Care: Dr. Elaine Greidanus
A Generative Approach to Leadership for All Educators
Bridging Neuroscience and Education: Riley Kostek (BSc’09/BEd’11)
Teaching and Assessing for Life Beyond the Classroom: Dr. David Slomp
Five questions with Shining Graduate Rita Lal (BSc/BEd '01, MEd '20)
Teaching Multiple Literacies in Canadian Classrooms: Sarah Gagnon (BSc/BEd’11, MEd candidate)
Wellness is About Writing: Teri Hartman (BA/BEd '02, current MEd student)

Related story links to the Faculty of Education Wellness Initiative series:
The Faculty of Education WELLNESS INITIATIVE: Supporting a Focus on Health and Well-Being
Wellness is Feeling Productive: Sally Leung (BA/BEd '17)
Wellness is About Writing: Teri Hartman (BA/BEd '02, current MEd student)
Wellness is Spending Time Outdoors: Dana Visser
Wellness is Stillness: Jane O'Dea (dean emerita)
Wellness is Coping with Stress Through Art and Music: Jenn Pellerin
Wellness During the COVID-19 Experience, PSII, and Staying Connected: Kelsey Shoults
Wellness is Being in the Moment: Kenneth Oppel
Wellness is About Having a Consistent Routine: Alex Funk (BEd '17)
Wellness is the Great Outdoors with Family: Beth Cormier (BA/BEd ’94)
Wellness is Spiritual: David Slomp
• Wellness is Ranching: Danny Balderson
Coping with COVID-19: Harnessing our Natural Stress Response
Coping with COVID-19: Loneliness

For more information please contact:

Darcy Tamayose
Communications Officer
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
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