For Professionals

Project Name: Community Implementation of the LEAP Project: An Online Resilience-Building Program for Adolescents and Young Adults

Target Population: Young Canadians, aged 13-24, who are struggling and want to learn new ways to manage life’s challenges

Project Summary: The LEAP Project ( is an eight week, ONLINE program that builds resilience by teaching healthy coping strategies. It can be accessed on the internet 24/7 and can be used alone or as an adjunct to other treatments.

It was developed by the Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine (CINIM) in collaboration with the University of Calgary (UofC), Mount Royal University (MRU), Alberta Health Services (AHS), as well as, with input from over 100 young volunteers. The program explores new ways of looking at life through eight weekly modules that include:

  • Videos, music, true stories, ideas from medical experts, movie/book recommendations;
  • Resilience-promoting concepts presented by a psychiatrist; and
  • Weekly exercises where participants put their learning into practice.


The program has been successfully pilot-tested in a randomized controlled trial with clinically depressed youth aged 13-24. CINIM extensively collaborated with hundreds of professionals from over thirty local youth service organizations who enthusiastically support the program and are eagerly awaiting its availability.

Pilot results confirm that youth who participate in the LEAP Project experience significant and lasting improvement in four main areas:

  1. Enhanced well-being, characterized by higher energy levels, increased motivation, hopefulness, reduced negative feelings, reduced feelings of depression
  2. Change in perspective, better able to address or cope with life challenges
  3. Feeling more connected to others, their surroundings and themselves
  4. Enhanced self-control over emotions

Current Focus: Implementation

CINIM’s goal is to secure funding to make the LEAP Project available to all youth in Canada within the next three years through a staged launch. We will target youth service organizations that we have established connections with and are currently discussing implementation with local universities, AHS Pathways Program and AHS Child and Adolescent Addiction and Mental Health Programs.

“We know that stress, depression, and anxiety are impacting many students at colleges and universities. The LEAP program is an incredible on-line resource for young adults exploring their emotions and working on behavior changes. A tool such as LEAP makes sense for students because it is accessible and available at times that work for students' schedules. As counselling and health services are in greater demand, LEAP is valuable resource for post-secondary institutions to have available for their students.”

- Kandi McElary, Director, Mount Royal University Wellness Services

Community Impact: The LEAP Project presents the opportunity to tremendously impact the wellbeing of youth which can have far reaching effects on families and entire communities. The resilience promoting strategies youth learn empowers them to better manage life’s stresses and challenges and these skills can have lasting effects into adulthood. Resilient youth are more successful in school and work, are less likely to participate in risky behaviors, have better overall health, and are more productive members of society.

70% of youth who require mental health services do not receive help. The prevalence of untreated youth with unmet mental health needs is cause for deep concern. This online mental health program addresses several of the barriers to access and provides a resource that can be adopted by individuals, as well as, community organizations, high schools, colleges, and universities to support the populations they serve. Organizations can expand their program delivery to new geographic territories and to new or larger segments of the population (i.e. young adults).

“I found this program very useful and suitable. I had seen several different counselors with really no positive outcome. The LEAP Project let me be in charge of my own therapy, yet still kept me on track. The mindfulness and tools it taught me are beneficial to anyone, Depression or not. I can say I’m cured now; LEAP was just the push I needed.”     - LEAP Project Pilot Participant

Organizational Information: Established in 2002, CINIM is a community-based registered charity (CRA: 88875 8315 RR 0001) that develops and delivers programs through donations and corporate sponsorships. The LEAP Project development and testing was supported by grants from the SickKids Foundation; the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research; the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation; and AHS.

CINIM is led by two psychiatrists who are leaders in their field and ensure that programs are evidence- based and well tailored to the needs of mental health patients: Dr. Badri Rickhi (Dr. Roger's Prize Winner 2009; Associate Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, UofC) and Dr. John Toews (Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, UofC).

CINIM’s purpose is to address the severe shortage of robust (safe, evidence-based, effective, proactive, lasting impact), accessible, relatable and affordable mental health resources by developing and delivering innovative programs that empower people with practical strategies to manage life’s challenges. CINIM’s programs are developed, evaluated, and implemented with collaboration from community stakeholders. CINIM has an extensive network of local and national partners in the academic, medical, research, education and integrative medical communities.

For more information or to find out how you can support this initiative contact:

Patti Paccagnan, RN BN, LEAP Project Facilitator
Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine
2020 18th Street N.W. Calgary, AB, Canada T2M 3T1
Tel: (403) 220-0022, ext. 111 Fax: (403) 210-2080
Email: Website: