Thumbs Up Advocacy Foundation (TUF), established in 2016, advocates for positive change for mental health.

Thumbs Up Foundation

The Titus family started TUF after their youngest son Braden suddenly and tragically died by suicide in 2015 at the age of 31. Braden’s suicide highlighted gaps within the fragmented framework of our current systems.

TUF's Purpose

TUF’s purpose is to advocate for positive change by increasing knowledge, understanding, and awareness. TUF advocates for systemic changes from the current short-term symptomatic standard of care to a preventative model of long-term sustainable health, happiness, and well-being. TUF is not a service provider itself but rather engages in state-of-the-art projects that improve client mental health outcomes. We work hard to ensure we are complementing existing systems, not replacing them. We influence positive change through inspiring collaboration among professionals, non-professionals, the community, and people with lived and living experience.

Harmonized Health's purpose path

TUF’s Community Investment

Through TUF’s efforts and total investment of over $170,000 in support of local initiatives and pilot projects, Airdrie is becoming increasingly well-established as a community of choice to pilot projects and prototypes. Recognizing a lack of support for families with loved ones suffering mental health or addiction challenges, TUF piloted the Families Helping Families program in Airdrie in 2017 to great evaluation.

TUF was the catalyst, funder, and key participant in the 2018–2019 Airdrie and Area Mental Health Task Force (MHTF). The MHTF was a year-long initiative that brought together key stakeholders, i.e., the local school division, RCMP, Primary Care Network, Alberta Health Services, community professionals, and people with lived experience to create an optimum treatment and prevention approach to mental health in Airdrie.

TUF has actively participated in health and mental health boards both provincially and locally. Between 2017 and 2020, TUF also funded client mental health services to ensure finances were not a barrier to accessing essential services for either individuals or families.

Drawn hands forming a heart
Timeline Timeline

TUF’s latest pilot project, Harmonized Health (HH), takes a tangible approach to incorporating recommendations found in Alberta and Canada-wide research on mental health and addiction. The HH goal was to establish a new and different way of providing mental health services through a client-first caring and compassionate lens—an approach not constrained by system priorities, funding models, or processes. The HH model incorporates lived experience and community working alongside medical professionals and other service providers. A core project team including TUF, Cool Family Solutions, Anchor of Hope, Care First Medical, and Health Upwardly Mobile collectively invested upwards of 8,000 volunteer hours to fine-tune the HH model prior to the pilot project beginning in August 2020.

Why Is There a
Need for Change?

Individuals with mental health and addiction concerns present through a wide variety of sources from acute care sites, family physicians, schools, RCMP, etc. They are often left to repeat their stories multiple times and pay out-of-pocket for fee-based services. They can experience delays in obtaining appointments or be unaware of or unable to locate necessary resources. System navigation can be difficult and frustrating.

In the current system, individuals are not typically comprehensively assessed using a standardized protocol; therefore, caregivers are not always able to address the root cause of the challenges, which can result in conflicting diagnoses and recommendations for treatment.

The least healthy member of the family impacts the entire family. Family members express a frustrating lack of support and resources. They report their own mental health becoming impacted negatively as a result, contributing to mental health growing exponentially. Engaging with and teaching families the skills needed to manage the challenges within the family unit can have a large impact on improving family circumstances while curtailing negative exponential growth.

Community members with lived and living experience are an invaluable resource for individuals and families in their recovery. These resources fill the gap between professional appointments. There are limited community systems established to link these resources comprehensively.