May 9, 2022

Quality Money Project feature: SilverCloud

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Quality Money funding provides graduate students and graduate student groups or associations with funding to start a new student project or fund an existing one.

Laura Sosa

Laura is currently a PhD Candidate in the Biological Department. For the past two years, she applied and received Quality Money to fund graduate students’ access to SilverCloud, a self-guided program that allows users to work through modules selected by licensed therapists to help them through whatever they’re struggling with. The program is based in cognitive-behavioral therapy and has units on anxiety, depression, stress, resilience and more. Thanks to Quality Money, students can use this program for free and it is completely confidential. It requires an email to register but only for password recovery and you will not be contacted about it. Access code: UCalgary GSA.

Laura shares, “As someone who has experienced mental health issues for most of my life, I know the importance of seeking help and implementing cognitive behavioral strategies to protect your well-being. Unfortunately, I also know how difficult it can be to find effective help and to ask for it without shame. When I was in my undergrad, I did a semester abroad at a university that offered students a free subscription to an online mental health platform called MoodGym. Using this website was my first introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy and helped me survive my isolating time abroad when I was scared to try in-person therapy. The benefit of the online program is that I was allowed to work through activities that helped me identify and address my weaknesses at my own pace. It also allowed me to begin positive activities far sooner than it would have taken me to build the courage to call a therapist. Additionally, having experienced in-person therapy, online platforms begin utilizing mental exercises much sooner than therapists because it skips the phase where you have to become comfortable with a therapist and build the relationship to the point where they can recommend treatments.

Now being in grad school and recognizing the impact that it has on the mental health of all graduate students, I wanted to make an online service available at the UofC. All graduate students simultaneously face the immense pressure of completing a research project while competing with peers for funding and the social isolation of long research hours. I therefore applied for Quality Money funding to get students access to Silvercloud, a Canadian company that offers online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. SilverCloud is a clinical research-based digital therapy platform that has been demonstrated to reduce General Anxiety Disorder and Depression scores. SilverCloud offers CBT, mindfulness training, and positive psychology to improve mental health. SilverCloud also offers coached or self-guided programs in Stress and Resilience, Anxiety, Depression, and Depression & Anxiety. The online platform can be accessed anywhere with the code UCalgary GSA.

Although the benefit of in-person therapy cannot be overstated, I believe the quick access to an online platform will be beneficial in helping students address their mental health symptoms before reaching crisis. The online services and in-person counselling could also be used in tandem, reducing the frequency of in-person appointments and therefore alleviating some financial stress that comes with the cost of counselling.”

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