Improving access to mental health services through community partnerships and technology

December 12, 2023

Congratulations to Dr. Theodore D. Cosco, Associate Professor and Michael Smith Health Research BC Scholar, on receiving both the Michael Smith Health Research BC 2023 Convening & Collaborating (C2) Award and the 2023 Reach Award.

Demonstrating his deep commitment to improving older adults’ mental health services, Cosco is the recipient of both the C2 and Reach awards. In the wake of the pandemic, Cosco believes it is crucial to focus on the mental health needs of older adults with real-life experiences and that this approach will help us develop support services that is truly impactful.

2023 Convening & Collaborating (C2) Award

Principal Investigator, Cosco, alongside Co-Lead Bonnie-Jean Gale, seek to enhance mental health research by fostering greater community involvement in their projects "Shared journeys in mental health: Building community partnerships for mental health support in older adults,". Their approach aims to enrich research quality, lessen stigma, and apply their discoveries for broader benefits. Cosco and Gale plan to collect and disseminate research in a series of phases, which includes:

  1. Reconnect: Engage with the Research Advisory Panel, which consists of a group of older adults in the community, to understand their experiences and needs post-pandemic.
  2. Reach Out: Spread the word about our project in community centres, via newsletters, and online platforms, inviting everyone interested to join.
  3. Learn Together: Through workshops, we will work with community partners and the Research Advisory Panel to brainstorm research questions and designs.
  4. Collect Insights: Host focus groups, interviews, and send out surveys to gather a wide range of perspectives on mental health research.
  5. Empower: Host training sessions to equip community partners with the tools they need to actively participate in the research and use the findings in their own communities.

For this project, Cosco and Gale’s approach is rooted in respect, reciprocity, and co-learning. By involving the community at every step, they aim to make research more accessible, meaningful, and impactful.

2023 Reach Award

Cosco is the Principal Investigator on this project with Co-Lead Bonnie-Jean Gale. This project is titled, “Mental health and aging: Development and implementation of an online mental health peer-support platform for older adults.”

The creation of this platform aims to connect older adults that are experiencing similar mental health challenges together. By providing a safe and supportive space for older adults to talk about their lived experiences with mental health through private messaging and virtual support groups, users can access support services in a timely manner at their own convenience. This platform will be especially important for older adults that have limited mobility or who live in rural areas where mental health services are not readily available.

Both projects are key community-engaged initiatives within the Precision Mental Health Lab led by Cosco. For more information on these projects, contact Dr. Theodore D. Cosco at For more information on the Precision Mental Health Lab, including graduate student supervision please contact Lab Coordinator Jessica Miskiewicz at