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GreenShield partners with mental health advocate Michael Landsberg to destigmatize mental health


GreenShield and Landsberg will exclusively launch First Step, a first-of-its-kind mental health program aimed at approaching the topic with real, raw conversation

TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2023 /CNW/ - Today, GreenShield, Canada's not-for-profit health and benefits company, announced a partnership with famed Canadian broadcaster and mental health advocate, Michael Landsberg, to transform the conversation around mental health.  The partnership, designed to support the one in five Canadians currently suffering,* will kick off with the launch of First Step, a first-of-its-kind program exclusively from GreenShield aimed at igniting relatable mental health dialogue.

"The first time I knew Canadians needed a program like First Step was in 2009 when I initially shared my battle with severe depression and anxiety on national television. I was immediately struck by the overwhelming response, specifically the level of loneliness people felt," said Michael Landsberg, mental health advocate. "Since then, we've made a lot of strides as a society, but we've failed to reduce the stigma around mental health.  Those suffering are three times less likely to disclose a mental illness than a physical illness, like cancer. I teamed up with GreenShield to bring the First Step program to life  in order to change that.  The program will strip down the clinical conversation, share real, unfiltered lived experiences and do it all in a format people actually want to engage with."

Launching in the new year, First Step will commence with a monthly 60-minute entertainment platform, hosted by Landsberg. Designed as the anti-webinar, the platform is the antithesis of traditional corporate mental health speak, delving into topics selected from real life experiences versus medical text.  Each month, hosts  will interview a new guest, from famed celebrities to leaders, to everyday professionals, unlocking an unfiltered conversation never before seen in the mental health space.

The monthly show will be accompanied by a series of eight digital modules that GreenShield clients will work through alongside Landsberg himself. The modules will feature interviews with famed guests, dispelling myths and misconceptions about mental health. "We speak from the heart and not from a textbook," adds Landsberg. "We speak the way Canadians talk - not corporate or clinical, but real and relatable." All  First Step programming will be infused with what Landsberg calls 'comedy and catharsis', introducing humour and laughter into a traditionally somber conversation. This first-of-its kind platform will be available exclusively through GreenShield.

Landsberg will also join GreenShield as its national mental health ambassador. As part of this role he will engage on GreenShield's behalf in speaking engagements, marketing initiatives and other business development opportunities.

"Unfortunately, mental health issues remain shrouded in stigma, falsehoods and misconceptions," said Joe Blomeley, Executive Vice President, Head of GreenShield Health and Enterprise Growth, GreenShield. "Discussions around mental health tend to be overly clinical and, at times, inaccessible to the average Canadian - dissuading people from seeking help. Our partnership with Michael will unlock mental health topics in a way that's never been done before with the hope that we can shed the stigma once and for all."

As one of Canada's leading innovators in the mental health space, focused on driving positive health outcomes, GreenShield is uniquely poised to bring First Step to market. Acting as both a  payer and provider, GreenShield offers insurance, administers benefits, and pays claims as a 'payer', while offering health services such as mental health, pharmacy, and medical services as a 'provider'. Specifically, it offers unique mental health services, including Employee Assistance Programs, virtual therapy, trauma and specialized services and internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT), going beyond self-directed and including coach and therapist-assisted offerings.  Knowing that two thirds of Canadians who suffer from mental illness don't seek help,** GreenShield's systems are designed to be accessed anywhere, anytime, eliminating geographical barriers.  The organization's advanced technology and algorithms also drive intelligent matching between patients and therapists and monitor effectiveness of care, ensuring better health outcomes.

Developed by Landsberg, the First Step advisory board includes John Ruffolo, Founder and Managing Partner, Maverix Private Equity; Bruce Poon Tip, Founder and CEO, G Adventures; Phil King- former President, TSN, CTV; Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser, four-time Olympic gold medalist, and current Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant General manager, as well as Zahid Salman, CEO & President of GreenShield. First Step will be available to all GreenShield plan sponsors in 2024. 

To learn more or sign up for GreenShield's mental health services, visit
https://www.greenshield.ca/health/mental-health

About GreenShield

GreenShield is an integrated health and benefits organization and the first organization in Canada to operate as a payer-provider? offering insurance, administering benefits, and paying claims as a 'payer' while offering health services such as mental health, pharmacy, and medical services as a 'provider.' Integrating both sides of the payer-provider equation enables GreenShield to simplify access to care, remove administrative barriers, and improve health outcomes for its customers.

GreenShield is uniquely structured as a not-for-profit social enterprise that reinvests its earnings and redeploys its services to support underserved Canadian communities via its social impact brand, GreenShield Cares. The company's overarching goal is to generate $75 million of social impact investments to improve the lives of at least 1 million Canadians by 2025, with a focus on mental health, oral health, and essential medicines. As the industry's noble challenger GreenShield continues to innovate, evolving its offerings and services to deepen its purpose of championing better health for all.

GreenShield.ca

GreenShield means, collectively, Green Shield Canada (GSC), Green Shield Association, and Green Shield Holdings Inc., which is the primary company that houses health services and benefits administration businesses, including Inkblot Therapy, Tranquility, BCH Consultants, NKS Health Canada, The Health Depot Pharmacy, Benecaid, and Computer Workware Inc. Green Shield Holdings Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the not-for-profit Green Shield Association.

About Michael Landsberg 

Michael Landsberg has been a prominent face and voice on the Canadian sports scene since 1984. With his unique style, he quickly became one of this country's most polarizing personalities - perceived by some as forthright and others as arrogant.

People had plenty of time to form their views on Michael. The show he hosted- Off the Record, was broadcast daily for 18 years and became the longest running daily talk show in Canadian history.

In 2009, there was more agreement on Michael after he publicly shared his, then decade-long, struggle with severe depression and anxiety. Since then, he has become one of this country's loudest voices, pushing for all Canadians to see mental illness as a sickness, not a weakness. Michael frequently used his platform as producer and host of Off the Record on TSN to change people's opinion of mental illness.

Michael has been an official spokesperson for Bell Let's Talk Day since that initiative was launched. In 2016 Michael launched his own initiative, a charity called SickNotWeak. SickNotWeak is dedicated to changing the way Canadians see mental illness and to understand that mental illness is a sickness, not a weakness.

*https://www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisis-is-real/mental-health-statistics
**https://www.cbc.ca/radio/checkup/are-people-who-suffer-from-mental-illness-getting-the-support-they-need-1.3954862

SOURCE Green Shield Canada


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