We have been exhibiting this week at one of North America's leading conferences on Community Corrections, hosted by the ICCA (www.iccalive.org).
Parallel to this, we have been meeting with a number of other interested parties in our products and learning more about the Canadian approach to addiction treatment and the wider area of mental health.
And it is clear that there are many examples of organisations, in particular corporates, genuinely trying to do something different than what has gone before. Maybe I've been fortunate in coinciding my visit with Canadian Mental Health Awareness week but there seem to be an increasing number of new and exciting initiatives being unveiled by the day. Starbucks Canada for example today announced that it will give up to $5,000 per year to its Canadian employees (those working more than 20 hours per week) to help cover the cost of therapy, whilst Bell Canada continue to invest in mental health provision
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the same issues and stigmas exist here and they do in the UK. Last week for example the Ontario University and College Health Association (OUCHA) published the output of research amongst over 25,000 students. This showed that Ontario colleges and universities are facing a mental health crisis as campus counsellors are overwhelmed by the growing need for services. And the more forward thinking universities are already seeking to adapt and provide for this need - the DMZ at Ryerson University for example announced last month that it was partnering with start-up Tranqool to provide free therapy to all start-ups and entrepreneur students working in its facility.
It would be easy to dismiss many of the initiatives, particularly those timed around large public awareness events as cynical, business moves. However for a younger work force that appears to prefer holistic options to taking medication to treat illness, psychotherapy is a very realistic option. And since mental illness often appears when a person is young, stepping up access to this age group you could argue is sound socially responsive (and corporate) policy.
This may explain the interest we are receiving in our own, addiction focused, products. The basic issues - Private help is expensive, psychologists and social workers in the public systems are difficult to access and often patients don't have the money or insurance to pay - are the same. Breaking Free's mission to widen access to evidence-based therapeutic care looks increasingly achievable.