Adult Islanders have better access to mental health support with online service

Adult Islanders who are dealing with anxiety and nervousness have faster and easier access to help and supports through an online program.

The new program, ICAN (Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness), educates adults about anxiety and gives them life-long skills to help deal with anxiety, depression and cope with stress. 

“Islanders will benefit because they have easier access to care online and they will not need to travel to appointments or take time off work or school,” said Dr. Amanda Hudson, program lead within Mental Health and Addictions. “E-mental health and telehealth initiatives also ensure that people get the help they need when they need it in situations where in-person services may not be available quickly.”
More than 100 adults have been helped through ICAN since it started in January 2019. Adults aged 18 and older get access to a secure website, videos, relaxation audio clips, daily anxiety tracker, a support guide and weekly telephone support from a coach. For Islanders who do not have internet access, a printed manual is available.

“Islanders want to have access to the best supports and treatment possible to help them improve their mental health. We are working to ensure that is available. Providing supports online is an innovative way to deliver these services. There is no wait time and help is based on what the person needs.”

- Health and Wellness Minister James Aylward

ICAN is one of the online supports available to Islanders through a partnership with the Strongest Families Institute. More than 1,000 Island families completed one of the Strongest Families programs available on the Island since 2015 with a 90 per cent success rate in helping people resolve their challenges. 

“Strongest Families Institute is very pleased to partner with Health PEI to deliver our ICAN program that helps adults with life-skills to overcome anxiety and stress to improve their quality of life,” said Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie. “We are reaching out to Islanders to let them know that help is here for them – when and where they need it. Our convenient telephone coaching program means help is easily accessible from your home, day or night. You can feel comfortable receiving help in the comfort and privacy of your own home.”

The ICAN program is free and people can self-refer at Strongest Families Institute Self-refer. Those without internet access can call 1-866-833-5443. More information on Health PEI’s mental health programs can be found at Mental Health Services.

Media contacts:
Carmel Turpin
Health PEI

Stacie Corrigan
Strongest Families Institute



About the ICAN program
The ICAN adult anxiety program provides individuals with life-long skills to help overcome anxiety and cope with stress. Research suggests this program leads to improved daily functioning and better interpersonal relations. Skills are taught through online modules and demonstration media (videos/ audio) and through weekly telehealth coaching either one-on-one or in a group. For individuals without access to internet, there is a hard-copy manual available.

The ICAN (Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness) program is based on best science and focused on adults 18+ years of age. Adults learn life-skills to overcome anxiety and to cope with major life stressors. The ICAN program has helped adults overcome anxiety symptoms, leading to improved daily performance, social and family relationships and increased confidence.

Highlights of the program include tips on the importance of self-care for your mental well-being, being your own advocate, balancing finances, effective problem-solving around major stressors, and using skills to control anxiety.

How it works

The program is available free of charge to Island residents and individuals can self-refer online at Strongest Families Institute Self-refer.

If you are struggling with anxiety, the ICAN program will help you learn skills to control anxiety. The telephone coach will support you through the program that can take about three to four months with weekly telephone contact. You will be provided with written information and video and audio that demonstrate coping skills to help you find out what skills work best for you in specific situations. You will track your anxiety in an anxiety tracker, use the skills to learn how to control anxiety.

Trained coaches provide guidance through weekly telephone calls and individuals receive support via online tools and resources. The program operates on a schedule that is convenient for individuals.

Islanders experience with ICAN

“I worry less about what’s coming up. I don’t plan so far ahead in case something happens. I feel like if I’m anxious I have skills to deal with it.”

“The biggest change is my awareness of it. Because I don’t think I was fully aware and accepted it. Before you can change something, you need to recognize and accept it. For me I recognize more (triggers)…for example when I get frustrated, I think I know now where that comes from and I didn’t necessarily realize that before.”

An ICAN participant talking about her hopes for her own children, as she models the ICAN skills:

  • "My hope for them, is that they will be able to get some of these skills a little bit earlier in life. The earlier you develop these good habits, the less time of stress you have in your life. They are younger and able to (develop good habits) and have those skills, rather than being my age and trying to learn (these skills).”

“ICAN is a part of your mental health toolbox, it is a way to get the new tools you need to live a healthier and better life.”

About Strongest Families Institute

Strongest Families Institute (SFI) is an award-winning charitable organization founded in Nova Scotia that provides effective, evidence-based programs for people dealing with mild to moderate mental health and other issues impacting health and well-being. SFI provides timely, accessible care to individuals and families by teaching skills through a unique distance telephone coaching approach – support is provided for clients in the comfort and privacy of their own home. Strongest Families provides family-centered care that is customized to their needs with programs designed to support people aged three years and older affected by significant challenges including anxiety, behavior and nighttime bed-wetting difficulties. For more information please visit Strongest Families Institute.

In addition to the ICAN program, Islanders also have access to other Strongest Families programs including:

  • Parents Empowering Kids (behaviour difficulties program) - 3-12 years of age
  • Chase Worries Away (anxiety program) - 6-11 years of age
  • Defeat Anxiety (anxiety program) – 12-17 years of age
  • Dry Nights ahead (nighttime bedwetting) – 5-12 years of age

General Inquiries

Health PEI
16 Garfield Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6130
Fax: 902-368-6136

Your Health Privacy

Media Inquiries
Phone: 902-368-6135

Health PEI Board of Directors

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

If you are unsure what to do about a health issue or if you need health information, call 8-1-1.

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