The Manitoba Government announces that it will continue funding the locally developed mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBTm) program by offering a $700,000 investment.

Yesterday, Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister Sarah Guilllemard shared in a media release that the Government of Manitoba wants to show its support for those who have been struggling mentally. The CBTm aims to help people who sign up to learn and practice skills that are designed to improve their mental health.

"Our government is proud to continue supporting this innovative and accessible program that addresses the mental health needs of Manitobans, which have become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic," says Guilllemard. "The CBTm hub leads the innovation, capacity-building and collaboration of mental health resources throughout Manitoba while standardizing the types of therapies available across the country.

Since the CBTm was established in 2021, the government has funded $1 million towards the hub. This includes a $300,000 investment towards its start-up.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is widely used throughout Canada and is commended for its effective evidence-based treatment by finding connections and patterns between thoughts, physical actions and feelings. 

The CBTm program seeks to combine the practices of regular CBT and add the fundamentals of mindfulness practices to reduce stress, anger, fatigue, sleep problems and negative health outcomes by creating coping mechanisms that work for the participants.

"Far too many Manitobans struggle to access mental health supports and so we definitely welcome this expanded investment in CBTm," says Rebecca Blaikie, Executive Director of Norwest Co-op Community Health. "At Norwest, we have seen the positive impact that access to cognitive behavioural therapy can have on the quality of life for our community members."

The program, originally designed for adults 18-years and older, will be revised to include youth between the ages of 14-17, training 100 new facilitators and getting 1000 new participants to sign up.

"Cognitive behavioural therapy helps to provide individuals with the tools they need to manage their mental health," says Dr. Jitender Sareen, provincial medical specialty lead, mental health addiction, Shared Health. "The continued investment in these services will ensure more Manitobans are better equipped to cope in stressful circumstances, resulting in improved mental well-being and reduced negative health outcomes."

CBTm is a five-week program that offers two virtual formats. It was originally in-person, but due to pandemic restrictions, the program directors had to rearrange how participants could engage with their services. Classes were planned to be held at over 50 hospital and community-based sites. 

One format is a facilitator-led course through Zoom, it is similar to what the in-person experience would have been like. The other format is self-guided through a web-based program. That way it is easily accessible to participants in their own homes.

CBTm is specifically designed to have different services that target different demographics and cultures, including the 50-plus population, public safety personnel, Indigenous communities, cancer patients and women who are pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months.

"Since 2019, our government has invested more than $58 million in initiatives focused on improving access to and coordination of mental health and addictions services in Manitoba," says Guillemard. "The CBTm program is one of these initiatives that improve Manitobans' access to psychological treatments and we are proud to continue supporting this important program."

To find out more information about CBTm, visit their website.