Children and youth in Manitoba can thrive through a newly developed mental health program through the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.

At 1:30 p.m. today, the Children's Hospital Foundation (CFH) and the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM) hosted a press conference to announce the launch of a new children's mental health research program.

PRIME—PRomoting Innovative Mental Health through eHealth* Excellence—is a newly developed program that will create infrastructure, resources, and advisory groups for evidence-based eHealth therapeutics that encourage mental health, assist in chronic disease management to ensure that children are able to thrive and live healthy lives.

"Through evidence-based eHealth interventions, PRIME’s goal is to help reduce wait times, provide supports, services and access to rural communities and reduce health system costs," says Dr. Terry Klassen, CEO & Scientific Director of Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. "eHealth technologies offer tremendous potential to advance the reach and efficacy of mental health therapeutics to an increasingly digital-connected population while also enhancing in-person services, tailored to community needs."

In partnership with the Sobeys Family of Support fundraising initiative, the PRIME research theme is fully funded at $150,000 annually for the next three years.

"We are a Canada-wide family of support, funding programs so that more kids can access mental health supports early, giving them the best possible chance to thrive," says Sandra Sanderson, Senior Vice-President of Marketing at Sobeys Inc. "Thanks to customer donations at our stores, we are together able to support initiatives like PRIME to address mental health needs for kids and families within our communities."

Expertise and program development for child mental health services that are not being met will be addressed by PRIME with dedicated eHealth professionals, to assist in reducing the impact that mental illness in Manitoba and potentially across the country.

"Thanks to the incredible support of Sobeys, we now have funding for these devoted researchers to be creative and innovative in developing new and ongoing important mental health care and treatment of children and adolescents – which is now more important than ever before," says Stefano Grande, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba. "Pediatric reports highlight an imminent need to address the child mental health crisis and ensure children in need of services can receive adequate care. We are pleased to be partnered with Sobeys Family of Support who recognize this critical need to fund a diverse range of innovative child and youth mental health programs."

According to CHF, mental illness is one of the leading causes of disability in Canada, with 70 per cent of signs of mental health problems and illnesses showing during adolescence. This causes an increased need for mental health services in children's hospitals all across Canada. 

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only created a larger demand for mental health support for children and teens.

CHRIM members possess strong foundational knowledge of what needs to be done to provide eHealth models that address the time-sensitive needs of mental health problems and illnesses in children. They are developing models of trauma-informed therapy to promote perinatal health, online social-support platforms for neurodivergent youth and hybrid models of digital resources and clinician connection to address intergenerational mental illnesses.

The research team is working closely with patient advisors that possess lived experiences with mental illness and intersecting inequities such as disability, chronic illness, or systemic racism to make sure all community needs are met.

To learn more about Promoting Innovation in Mental health through eHealth Excellence, visit

*eHealth refers to healthcare services offered online on the internet.