Reflecting on the Self Care Project

I’ve written blog entries here before about the Antidepressant Skills Workbook, a free evidence-based self-care tool developed over a decade ago, which can be downloaded[1] in English, French, Punjabi, Chinese, Farsi and Vietnamese; and also as an audio book (sadly, only in English so far). Also available for free download on that site are versions of the workbook focused on mood self-control for the workplace, for adolescents and for those dealing with chronic health conditions.

I call this the Self Care Project because I believe that there is immense potential for individuals to become more skilled at psychological self-care. Our society does a poor job of sharing knowledge about effective approaches to self-care: there is too much emphasis on severe manifestations of psychological distress[2], and too little attention to the majority of individuals whose psychological suffering could be substantially improved by effective self-care. I find it quite heartening to know that, 10 years into this project, over 350,000 copies of the self-care workbooks have been downloaded. Each time a new translation is completed, another segment of the world’s population gains access. While most downloads are from Canada, especially Quebec, many thousands are downloaded in France and the rest of Europe.

I have learned some lessons. First, despite being repeatedly assured that individuals in the modern web world do not read, the reality is that most people retain the propensity to use written material when it is clear and engaging. (It is true that those in the midst of a depressive episode find it difficult to read—I’ve been told by an outpatient clinic that depressed patients find the audio book easier to use). Second, this large number of downloads is really a drop in the bucket compared to the potential uptake of self-care skills. I would argue that those in our society who thrive psychologically are already using these skills to cope well (whether they know it or not) and everybody else should learn them. There is much talk about psychological resilience—self-care skills lie at the core of resilience. Third, when population level interventions are done in a thoughtful and engaging way, massive change can occur with minimal investment[3].


[2] Along with promotion of pharmacological treatments over equally effective psychotherapy.

[3] I seem to be transforming into a Ted talk. Well, there are worse fates.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

* Mandatory fields