Mental health support that makes sense
ATB partners Kickstand and Inkblot Therapy bring affordable, convenient virtual support to community members
By ATB Financial 19 October 2022 4 min read
When a person experiences a sensation like hunger or thirst, their thoughts naturally turn to where they might go for food or water.
When a person experiences mental distress, or finds themselves struggling with pressure at home, at school, in the workplace or within themselves, the question of where to go for relief can be harder to answer.
Awareness of available supports is a factor. Access to those supports can be limited, if just by time and distance. On top of that, lingering social stigmas can deter a person in need of help from asking for it.
As part of ATB Financial’s Greater Good strategy, we’ve made a commitment to help bring wellness support within reach of Albertans in need and to use our unique position to amplify our partners’ efforts.
Today, we’re turning the spotlight on two innovative partners, who are making access to mental health services more convenient, for our clients, community members and even our ATB team members.
Alberta’s Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has been championing the idea that mental health is central to all health, since 1998. Their data-based approach to improving access to services makes them an ideal partner for ATB.
Young people struggling with mental health and addiction challenges are especially vulnerable. And while services are available, a lack of integration makes it difficult to figure out which combination of resources they can and should engage with.
MHF co-created Kickstand to address that gap in mental health support, with integrated services and resources for a wide variety of issues, including physical and sexual health, mental health and substance use, housing and employment.
The highlight of the partnership so far, according to Terri Stiksma, ATB’s Social Innovation Manager, has been the May 2022 launch of the online platform, Kickstand Connect.
The website functions as a virtual walk-in clinic, complete with trained professionals and a safe online space for group sessions—accessible from anywhere, anytime—and serves Albertans aged 12 to 25, as well as their parents or caregivers.
“Now more than ever, those of us who can help need to rally together to make a positive impact on the social issues that matter most,” says Stiksma. “Just as we are committed to banking, we are committed to making Alberta a better place to live.”
In the final year of ATB’s long-running Teddy for a Toonie campaign, $185,242 was raised for Kickstand. ATB is now working with Kickstand to deliver financial literacy learning to young Albertans through the platform.
Until 2019, ATB team members were able to make appointments with an EFAP (employee and family assistance program) for in-person sessions with a therapist up to six times each year.
Only 15% of ATB team members made use of the service annually.
In 2019, ATB’s Director of People & Culture, Kerilee Snatenchuk sent out a request for proposals for a new EAP. Among the familiar names that surfaced, there was a new one: Inkblot Therapy.
Unlike the others, it was a fully virtual service. In addition to mental health and therapeutic counseling, Inkblot offered financial counseling, career counseling and nutrition counseling. People could choose a therapist best-suited to their current needs based on clinical fit, cultural fit, and language.
Not knowing how the switch to an online platform would affect usage, there was some hesitation. The flexibility and convenience that Inkblot offered won ATB over.
In the first quarter, usage jumped from 15% to 26%. Internally, people started talking about how great it was.
“And then the pandemic hit,” said Snatenchuk, “And it seemed very prescient that we ended up having a virtual therapy delivery system.”
Denise Richardson, SVP of Commercial at Inkblot, says she's proud to work with a partner that shares a strong value alignment.
“Knowing that ATB cares about their employees, and that those employees are leading healthier lives because of our service, is incredibly satisfying,” they said. “Together, we've collaborated on initiatives and strategies to optimize the mental health of ATB employees, factoring in seasonal trends and more.”
The partnership has since expanded beyond ATB’s offices, offering support to athletes competing in ATB-sponsored sporting events.
In 2021, every player in the ATB Financial Classic golf tournament received a subscription to the Inkblot therapy platform. The same year—ATB’s first as a title sponsor of the Canadian Finals Rodeo—three online therapy sessions were offered to each participant.
The Greater Good
Mental health truly affects everyone. According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, one out of every two people have—or have had—a mental illness.
Making online mental health supports available virtually to Albertans is just one solution we’re helping to power. ATB is also proud to be exploring other possible solutions with our partners headversity, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Distress Centre (Calgary), the Calgary Counselling Centre, and CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health.