The Beyond Silence training programs and the Beyond Silence app were developed through various research projects. At present, the Beyond Silence research team is conducting an implementation study to determine the effectiveness of a virtual mental health agent equipped with peer support providers, within healthcare organizations. Listed below are current and past research projects.

Current Research Projects

Advancing e-Mental Health Solutions to Support Canadian Healthcare Workers through Peer Support

The Beyond Silence project will advance and test an innovative new e-mental health app for healthcare workers designed to reduce barriers to accessing mental health information and support, by the provision of real-time access to confidential, quality peer support. This project is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada

The pilot project will include implementing the Beyond Silence app and peer support in 8-10 healthcare organizations across Canada.

For more information, email

Thank you to our project partners: Homewood Health and Sheridan College’s Centre for Mobile Innovation (CMI).

Financial contribution from Public Health Agency of Canada

Research Team – PHAC

Sandra Moll – Principal Investigator
Dr Sandra Moll
Sandra Moll

Sandra’s research interests relate to mental health/mental illness, along the continuum from mental health promotion to illness intervention. Her primary program of research focuses on workplace mental health, including approaches to building mental wellness and mental health literacy and reducing stigma in the context of work. Recent projects include: a provincial study of the psychosocial vulnerabilities of young workers; mental health literacy training with healthcare workers; and a study of faculty-student interactions related to mental health in post-secondary education. Other areas of interest include occupation-based approaches to health promotion and psychotherapy interventions. Her primary methodological expertise is in qualitative, participatory research.

Fardous Hosseiny
Fardous Hosseiny
Fardous Hosseiny

Fardous Hosseiny (he/him) is the President and CEO at the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families, located at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in Ottawa. Before coming to Atlas, Fardous was most recently the interim National Chief Executive Officer and the National Director of Research and Public Policy, at the Canadian Mental Health Association. His research focuses on strategic policy issues related to mental health system transformation, parity legislation, Veteran and their Families mental health, substance use and addiction and mental health for newcomers and underrepresented groups.

Fardous is also a frequent commentator on these issues for Global News, CBC, CTV News, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, among others.

Fardous was a part of the Canadian delegation to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly and played a role in the development of the first ever United Nations event dedicated to mental health.

Fardous also serves on many national and international committees, including as an executive advisor on the Global Alliance for Mental Health Advocates (GAMHA), co-chair of the Research Reference Group at Atlas Institute and past co-chair for the Canadian Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) and Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM).

Fardous completed a Master of Science with a focus on the neuroscience of addiction and a BSc Honours, both at the University of Toronto.

He also holds a Certified Health Executive (CHE) designation from the Canadian College of Health Leaders. Fardous is on the Board of Directors – Canadian Juries Commission.

MaryAnn Notarianni
MaryAnn Notarianni
MaryAnn Notarianni Headshot

MaryAnn Notarianni is the Deputy CEO and Vice President, Knowledge Mobilization at the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families where she provides strategic leadership to initiatives designed to make evidence more accessible to improve Veteran and Family mental health and well-being in Canada.

MaryAnn has had progressive leadership roles in national and provincial mental health intermediary organizations over the past decade, developing and leading initiatives in knowledge mobilization, engagement, quality improvement, suicide prevention and e-mental health. She has also worked in policy and research roles for the federal government and with national non-profit organizations. MaryAnn is a Certified Health Executive with the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

Margaret McKinnon
Margaret McKinnon
Dr. Margaret McKinnon

Dr. Margaret McKinnon is Full Professor and Associate Chair, Research in Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, where she holds the Homewood Chair in Mental Health and Trauma. She is also the Research Lead for Mental Health and Addictions at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and a Senior Scientist at Homewood Research Institute. Work in Dr. McKinnon’s laboratory focuses on identifying the neural and behavioural correlates of PTSD and trauma-related illnesses and on translating this knowledge to the development and testing of novel treatment interventions aimed at reducing the cognitive and affective sequelae of these conditions. A licensed clinical psychologist and clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. McKinnon has a special interest in military, veteran, and public safety populations (including healthcare workers), and has worked with these groups clinically and in her research program. She has published or in press nearly 150 scientific works.

Work in Dr. McKinnon’s lab is supported by federal and provincial funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research, Veterans Affairs Canada, Defence Canada, the PTSD Centre of Excellence, MITACS, and the Workers Safety Insurance Board of Ontario, by a generous donation to Homewood Research Institute from Homewood Health Inc., and by generous gifts from private foundations, including True Patriot Love, the Cowan Foundation, the Military Casualty Support Foundation, the FDC Foundation, and the AllOne Foundation. Dr. McKinnon is a frequent commentator in the media on matters related to PTSD, moral injury, and the impact of trauma on special populations.

Rosemary Ricciardelli
Rosemary R
Dr. Rosemary Ricciardelli

Dr. Rosemary Ricciardelli is Professor (PhD, Sociology) in the School of Maritime Studies and Research Chair in Safety, Security, and Wellness, at Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute. Elected to the Royal Society of Canada, her research centers on evolving understandings of gender, vulnerabilities, risk, and experiences and issues within different facets of the criminal justice system and among mariners and nurses.

She has published 11 books, over 190 journal articles and nearly 50 chapters all in the areas of PSP, criminalized persons, and wellness – broadly defined. As a sex and gender researcher, her interests lay in the social health, identity construction, and lived experiences of individuals.

Peter Smith
Peter Smith
Peter Smith

Peter Smith is the president and senior scientist at the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) in Toronto, and an associate professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Before becoming the Institute’s president in January 2022, he was the scientific co-director.

Peter has a master’s in public health from the University of New South Wales, Australia, and a PhD from the Institute for Medical Science at the University of Toronto. He is a former recipient of a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (2008-2013), a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council (2012-2014), and a research chair in Gender, Work and Health from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2014-2019).

Peter has extensive experience conducting research related to work injury and its consequences using large population-based surveys and administrative workers’ compensation data. His key research interests include gender and sex differences in the relationship between work and health; labour market inequalities and their health-related outcomes; the labour market experiences of newcomers, older workers, younger workers and other vulnerable labour force subgroups; chronic illnesses and work injury; and trends in working conditions over time.

Ed Sykes
Ed Skyes
Ed Sykes

Ed received an Honours B.Sc. (1992) in Mathematics and Computer Science (Summa Cum Laude) from McMaster University, a M.Sc. (2005) in Computer Science from McMaster University and a Ph.D. (2012) in Computer Science from the University of Guelph. He has a B.Ed. (1993) and Ontario Teaching Certificate (OTC) from the University of Western Ontario, a M.Ed. (1998) and the Ph.D. (2006) in Education (Cognition and Learning) from Brock University.

Ed is the Director of Sheridan College’s Centre for Mobile Innovation (CMI). The CMI is an internationally recognized research centre that focuses on Mobile Health (mHealth) and creates innovative solutions to healthcare problems in collaboration with our industry and community partners using mobile technologies, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Deep Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Wearable Computing, and Augmented/Virtual Reality. To date, Ed has accumulated over $13 million in research funds. These funds have enabled the CMI to grow and become a world-class research centre. Ed conducts and directs research in the CMI, leads and collaborates with over a dozen faculty researchers, 25+ research students (in any given semester) and 12+ industry partners (e.g., Apple, Microsoft, IBM, healthcare companies, and community partners such as hospitals). Ed is a newly appointed Adjunct Associate Professor in the Computing and Software Department, Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University and involved in the supervision and mentoring of MSc and PhD students. Ed is also working closely with KITE at the University Health Network (UHN) at the University of Toronto.

Past Research Projects

Research funded by Ontario Mental Health Foundation

This evidenced based peer-led mental health literacy program designed specifically for health care was tested in a randomized parallel group trial that looked at the following research questions:

Is customized contact-based education more effective than standard mental health literacy training in increasing the help-seeking/outreach behaviours of workers in a healthcare setting?

  • What mediates the impact of the contact-based intervention
  • What is the effect of mental health literacy
  • What is the effect of attitudes towards coworkers with mental health issues
  • What is the effect of attitudes towards seeking professional treatment
  • What process issues need to be considered in implementing mental health education in a healthcare workplace?

The research project compared the MHCC Mental Health First Aid Program and the Beyond Silence Program. It found that the programs were equally as effective at increasing mental health literacy. It also found that there were five key implementation factors that were important:

  • Contact-based education approach
  • Information tailored to the workplace context
  • Varied stakeholders perspectives
  • Sufficient time to integrate and apply learning, and
  • Organizational support

“Through the research it found that the Beyond Silence program provided more opportunity for contact-based education, healthcare specific content and opportunities for in-depth discussion of diverse perspectives. Finally the research concluded that to increase mental health literacy and reduce stigma, workplace training should be based on best practice principles of contact-based education, with contextually relevant examples and support from all levels of the organization.”

(Moll, et al., 2016)

Moll S, Patten SB, Stuart H, Kirsh B, & MacDermid JC. (2018). Beyond silence: A randomized parallel-group trial exploring the impact of workplace mental health literacy training with healthcare employee. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Moll, S., VandenBussche, J., Brooks, K., Kirsh, B., Stuart, H., Patten, SB. & MacDermid, JC. (2018). Workplace mental health training in health care: Key ingredients of implementation. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Research Funded by Ontario Ministry of Labour

Through research funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, the training program was subsidized and offered as a 2-day training for workers in small, under-resourced healthcare workplaces across Ontario. The training program was offered across Ontario over 2 years.