Thumbs Up Foundation receives $500,000 grant

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by iStock

A local mental health and addictions foundation recently received $500,000 from the Province to conduct a pilot program that could help shape the standard of care in Alberta.

“This has been a year in the making and it is so exciting to finally see this funding come through and know that we can move on to the next stage of improving mental health care in Alberta,” says Kim Titus, founder of The Thumbs Up Foundation.

The Thumbs Up Foundation was established in 2016 as a result of the sudden passing of Titus’ 31-year-old son Jesse Braden. “Brady,” as he was known, was a beloved son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend.

Brady’s family and friends, including his mom, and his dad (also named Kim) began looking into mental health care and awareness in Alberta, as well as the larger suicide epidemic in Canada.

Brady struggled with depression briefly before his suicide and was unable to access crucial mental health care in the weeks leading up to his death.

According to a press release, the funding comes from the Community Grant Funding Program (CGFP) and is part of $53 million allocated to the provincial COVID Mental Health Action Plan. The CGFP includes $5 million in funding dedicated to local organizations supporting mental health and addiction initiatives in Alberta.

According to Titus, the funding will be put towards Harmonized Health, a pilot project that aims to support individuals and families requiring assistance for mental health and addiction care.

Harmonized Health’s vision is an evidence-based community health model designed to create an integrated and seamless collaboration. The program provides a model where care is provided by professionals (such as doctors and counsellors) as well as non-professionals (people who have been through the program) in a controlled and measured environment.

“The purpose of Harmonized Health is to inform for reform. The information we learn here will reform the standard of care,” says Titus.

“I fundamentally know that if this had been the standard of care when Braden was looking for help, he would still be here.”

Harmonized Health is built on four pillars:

  • Medical Clinic/Physician Assessment
  • Family Support
  • Individual Care
  • Ongoing Maintenance and Recovery Tools

She adds that the pilot program is designed to be a practical example of a community model applying the tactics that are known to be successful through research. The model is meant to be scalable, replicable and transferable to any community including rural settings, Indigenous communities and correctional institutions.

She says the project is currently in the training stage and it is difficult to pinpoint a timeline for the pilot project, but she hopes to have the data compiled by early 2021.

For more information, click here or email Titus at