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THRIVE Learning Centre for Mental Wellness and Well-Being 

Your wellness journey starts here.

Mental health. It wasn’t a class at school. So where can adults go to learn about mental health and well-being? The answer is THRIVE Learning Centre for Mental Wellness and Well-being.  

Thrive is a virtual learning centre operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association Nova Scotia Division, where anyone can access free workshops to learn, gain new skills, and connect with others in their community.  

Workshops are developed by subject matter experts in collaboration with individuals with lived experience.  Topics covered in our workshops range from understanding anxiety to self-care.

The schedule is updated quarterly.

Current Course Schedule

January 10 | Healthy Habits: Nutrition 

You are what you eat. We’ve all heard that old adage. But did you know there is truth in it? Ensuring you are eating nutritious food and have access to it are inextricably linked to your overall well-being.

This one-hour session will explore Canada’s Food Guide, elaborate on how to make better choices, and provide tools to try to eat healthier food options.


January 16 | Mental Health Resources 

People experiencing episodes of mental illness—and the people that are close to them—need information. However, that information is not always readily available and the search for answers may require more energy and persistence than what we have available in times of crisis.

In this session we review a comprehensive list of curated mental health resources available to Nova Scotians and review how to access them.


January 24 | Healthy Habits: Sleep

Research suggests a strong link between sleep and mood. Whether you’re sleeping too little, too much or just not getting a good sleep, it impacts your well-being.

This workshop explores the importance of sleep quality, the relationship between sleep and mental illness/mental well-being, and offers tips to improve sleep quality.


January 26 | An Introduction to the Social Determinants of Mental Health Series: Access to Economic Resources

Mental health is not only the avoidance of mental illness. Your mental health is affected by several non-medical factors the directly impact your mental health. These factors are called the social determinants of health. They include access to safe housing, good jobs and affordable health care, as well as access to foods that are important to us, safety in our interactions with others and social connection. [Learn more]

In this workshop series, we will be taking a closer look at some of the social determinants of mental health, beginning with the first determinant, access to economic resources.

Together, we will talk about the different resources that we need in our lives to be mentally well and thrive.

We will also take some time to reflect on how our own experiences with these resources have shaped our lives and affected our well-being.


January 26 | Walking for the Body, Mind and Soul: Hike NS

Walking outdoors is one of the best things you can do to support your mental health. It has been proven to almost instantly improve our mood and relax us.

Despite the endless benefits of walking outside, it can still be hard to feel motivated to get outdoors.

Having a walking buddy or belonging to a walking group, can definitely help.

In this interactive info session guest facilitators Catherine Droesbeck and Lesley Huska will introduce NS Walks, a free program offered in communities across the province to support adults who want to walk more but want someone to walk with.

Register for this session to learn more about how this free program can help you support your mental health.


February 3 | Tapping into Presence : Breathwork

Breathing exercises allow you to think more clearly and reduce feelings of anxiety.

Research shows that our brain associates different emotions with different breathing patterns, and breathing exercises work because they trick your brain into thinking your emotional state is different than it actually is.

In this workshop we’ll explore accessible breathwork practices to help you find calm and centre.

All you need is yourself and a few minutes of time.


February 7 | Healthy Habits: Physical Activity

You already know that exercise is good for your body. But did you know it can also boost your mood, improve your sleep, and help you deal with depression, anxiety and stress?

Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a real difference.

No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to deal with mental health problems, improve your energy and outlook, and get more out of life.

Join this session to learn more about the connection between mental health and activity, explore different types of physical activity and discover tools to help become more active,

We will also discuss potential barriers and ways to overcome them.


February 10 | Tapping into Presence: Meditation

If you’ve ever sat in silence and enjoyed a moment to yourself, you’ve meditated. If you’ve ever stopped to focus on your breath, you’ve meditated.

There are many types of meditation, and many misconceptions that go along with them.

At the core, meditation is turning your attention away from the mental noise that comes from everyday life. This could mean focusing on your breath, mentally repeating a phrase, or simply just focusing your thoughts on the present moment.

While the practice may seem insignificant, the results can be incredibly significant.

Studies suggest that mindful meditation can help reduce anxiety, depression and psychological pain. Plus, mindful meditation has also been known to be beneficial for general mood, sleep, cognition and more.

In this workshop we’ll explore the benefits of the practice, the how-to’s of the practice and how it impacts our daily lives.


Workshop Series: Living Well with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain affects roughly 20 per cent of Canadians. Living with chronic pain can have a significant impact on any person’s quality of life and mental health. But with the right tools, education and support, it doesn’t have to decrease a person’s quality of life.

The Living Well with Chronic Pain workshop series aims to help Nova Scotians who live with chronic pain deepen their knowledge and understanding of their pain, gain perspective, self-confidence to manage their pain more effectively and improve the quality of their lives.

The series is free to attend and open to Nova Scotians who live with chronic pain, and will be held virtually via Zoom from February 15 to March 8, 2023. It is encouraged, but not necessary to attend the entire series to get the full benefit of the workshops.



Questions? Contact Lindsay Miller at [email protected]

February 16 | Humour and Mental Health

Can you remember a time when you laughed so hard your stomach hurt or you spit out your milk?  Remember how good you felt afterwards?

Studies have shown that humour can have a positive effect on our mental health and that laughter is related to reduced anger, lower levels of stress and anxiety and more and positive interpersonal relationships.

Humour can be a coping tool and a bridge to better connection.

Join us for a discussion on how to incorporate more humour into our lives and support our mental health.


February 21 | Healthy Habits: Social Connection

Connecting with others is more important than you might think. Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems. By neglecting our need to connect, we put our health at risk.

But our inherent need for human connection doesn’t mean that every introvert must become a social butterfly. Having human connection can look different for each person.

And if you’re not sure where to start in finding meaningful connection, that’s okay.

This workshop explores the difference between loneliness and solitude, the benefits of social circles, and brainstorm ideas to become more socially active.


February 23 | An Introduction to the Social Determinants of Mental Health: Social Inclusion 

In this workshop, we will take a closer look at the second determinant, social inclusion.

We all need to feel connected – whether that be in our friendships, families, at work, or in our communities.

This session will explore why social inclusion is so important to us, and the different ways we can stay connected to others. Hint: you don’t need to be an extrovert!


March 7 | Understanding Our Mental Health   

Many people use the terms “mental health” and “mental illness” interchangeably, when really, they mean different things.

Mental illnesses are described as disturbances in thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that are severe enough to affect day-to-day functioning.[1] Some examples are anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and mood disorders, such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Mental health is a state of well-being, and we all have it.

You might experience stress, a difficult life event, or burnout. Just like anyone can catch a cold or flu, everyone can experience the ebbs and flow of well-being.

This workshop focuses on mental health as a continuum and how we can support it by understanding our own continuum so we can remain well.

FYI: You can live with a mental illness and still have good mental health.


March 9 & 16  | Afternoon Reflections

Did you know that sitting down and organizing our thoughts can brighten your day?

One of the ways to deal with any overwhelming emotion is to find a healthy way to express yourself.

This makes a journal a helpful tool in managing your mental health.

Join us for this 2-part workshop and explore different methods that we can use to journal and support your mental health.


March 21 | An Introduction to Mental Health Accommodations

It is a common misconception that providing an accommodation for a person with a mental health illness is difficult or costly.

But in reality, an accommodation is really just an adjustment – often temporary – that can help an employee to continue doing their job and contributing to the work of your organization.

In short, it’s a small thing that can make a huge positive impact.

This workshop outlines the benefits of providing accommodations and is focused on encouraging employers to create a safe environment for those who do require accommodations to feel comfortable requesting them.


March 23 | An Introduction to the Social Determinants of Mental Health: Freedom from Discrimination and Violence 

In this workshop, we will take a closer look at another determinant, Freedom from Discrimination and Violence.

Discrimination and violence are risk factors for poor mental health.

Discrimination refers to actions taken to exclude or treat others differently because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability.

Stigma and discrimination against people with mental illness is also a major concern, not just as a risk factor for recovery, but also as a barrier to accessing services and housing.

In this workshop we will examine how feeling safe impacts our mental health, and how we can be a safe space for other.


Guest Facilitators:


Sabrianne Penner | Introduction to the Social Determinants of Health Series

As a Health Promotion Specialist with the IWK, Sabrianne has a keen interest in the way the determinants of health impact our physical and mental health.

She hopes to share her knowledge so others can identify how their own health has been affected.

In her spare time, Sabrianne enjoys cooking, spending time in nature, and arguing with her cat about whether or not he’s been fed. As a Health Promotion Specialist with the IWK, Sabrianne has a keen interest in the way the determinants of health impact our physical and mental health.

She hopes to share her knowledge so others can identify how their own health has been affected.

In her spare time, Sabrianne enjoys cooking, spending time in nature, and arguing with her cat about whether or not he’s been fed.

Amber Chinn | Living Well with Chronic Pain Series

Amber Chinn is a mental health and disability advocate dedicated to increasing the conversation and resources for those living with chronic pain.

Her passion for this work has grown over the past six years since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and experiencing first-hand the lack of resources, accessibility and awareness within her community.

Amber is currently a Master’s in Counselling Psychology student at Yorkville University.

Leah |Tapping into Presence

Leah is a yoga and meditation teacher who initially dove into the practices during her own journey recovering from PTSD, Depression and Anxiety.

These practices were the gateway that led to deepening her relationship to self and others and learning tools to live a more present and full life.

Leah is passionate about cultivating safe spaces where those who are seeking tools, or a mindful way of living can come to learn and practice.

Shawna |Tapping into Presence

Shawna is a yoga and meditation teacher and teacher trainer who draws upon a multitude of practices to help us come home to ourselves and learn to weave the teachings into our daily life.

Her mission is to empower herself as well as others through the practice of yoga and meditation.

Using these ancient tools of awakening in a contemporary way to assist in our personal and collective healing.

She believes that ultimately, the goal is to tap into our purest power and potential. Her vision is to create a conscious community that begins to make a difference.

Catherine Droesbeck | Walking for the Body, Mind and Soul

Catherine  Droesbeck is the Hike NS Program Manager for NS Walks and has over 25 years of government and nonprofit experience in three provinces focused on increasing opportunities for physical activity for people of all ages.

During the past five years, Catherine’s work has been focused on decreasing inequities to accessing physical activity, in particular working with the Black communities of the Halifax area.

Catherine holds a degree in Health Promotion from Dalhousie University.

Lesley Huska | Walking for the Body, Mind and Soul

Lesley Huska is the Wellness Coordinator at Canada’s first mental health cooperative which is a charitable, peer-led organization in Dartmouth called Healthy Minds Cooperative.

Lesley works to develop and deliver wellness programming in the form of workshops, presentations and support groups which are all free to Nova Scotians and are available without any diagnosis or referral.

Lesley is passionate about sharing the tools and techniques that have guided her own mental health recovery, and most importantly, showing others that living well with mental illness is possible!

PAST Facilitators

Junior Moaku, Save Me Save We | Thrive in Peace Not in Pieces [November 2, 2022]

Junior Moaku is an avid mental health advocate whose work is focused on contextualizing the power and advantages of psychological health. Through evidence-based workshops and various training methods, Junior’s mission is to improve the wellness literacy of all Canadians.

Junior grew a passion for mental health after noticing the lack of resources, accessibility, and assertiveness around the subject in universities. He launched his personal awareness movement by wearing a t-shirt with the words Save Me. After an overwhelming positive response, he founded Save Me Save We to increase awareness around mental health.

Junior is a well traveled individuals whose educational background includes Chicago Hope Preparatory Academy, Iowa Central Community College, Cape Breton University, and Acadia University.

Learn more about Junior here

Dr. Julie MacDonald  | OCD: It’s probably not what you think [October 21, 2022]

Dr. Julie MacDonald is a psychologist who specializes in anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. She is also the mother of a child who lives with OCD.

Wil Brunner, Soft Pine Wellness | Virtual Forest Bathing: Opening the Door to Nature at Home

Wil Brunner is the Founder of Soft Pine Wellness, a company is registered to conduct nature therapy and guiding experiences in Nova Scotia. Wil shares many years of wilderness-based mental health and addictions counselling and mindfulness facilitation together with an academic and professional ecology and conservation background. Completing his Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guide certification in 2021, Wil has formally lead nature wellness to over a hundred Nova Scotian adults and youth and friends and families.

Support THRIVE

Donations allow CMHA NS to offer mental health and wellness programming, including THRIVE courses, to all Nova Scotians free of charge.

Thank you to our generous donors and champions for their support. Your dollars have a huge impact, and we are so grateful.

Together, we can work towards our mission of ensuring that all people in Nova Scotia experience good mental health and well-being.  Donate to CMHA Programs and Education, including THRIVE, HERE

THRIVE is generously supported by:

Do you want to support THRIVE?

There are several ways you can support this innovative programming. Contact Erin Christie, Provincial Lead, Communications and Community Engagement at [email protected]

Not seeing what you’re looking for? To suggest a topic for a Thrive program please email [email protected]

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