Our Story

Award-Winning Charity

Strongest Families Institute (SFI) is an award-winning charity grounded in 23 years of social science research.

Our evidence-based, bilingual mental health services are available for children/youth, adults, and their families…when and where they need it.

SFI’s scientifically proven distance services improve mental health and well-being by leveraging the advantages of best science, our highly skilled telephone coaches, and our innovative technology (IRIS).

We are dedicated to quality and meeting the needs of those we help. Our system and services have been co-designed. SFI engages regularly with our adult and youth advisory committees to inform ongoing improvements.

The Strongest Families Institute (SFI) began as a research program by the Centre for Research in Family Health at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Why We Exist

To provide timely access to quality services, when and where people need it. Accessing help is not easy. SFI exists to change that.

Our proven distance services offer:

  • Flexibility to receive timely care, regardless of where people live.
  • Barrier-free care. We remove barriers that others can’t.
  • Convenience. We are open days, evenings and nights.
  • Cost-effective and highly effective services. We are a good return on investment for funders.
  • Capability to quickly scale, SFI can assist to reduce waitlists.

We target mild to moderate problems, so health care professionals can be freed up to focus on more complex or severe conditions. SFI compliments the current system by bridging the access gap.

Scientifically Proven and Data-Driven

SFI’s programs are psychologically informed and grounded in over 20 years of social science research out of the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia by Drs. Patricia Lingley-Pottie and Patrick McGrath. The majority of our research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Our research within Canada and beyond shows that our skill-based programs are effective in addressing mental health conditions with lasting impacts. Adults and children reported a strong therapeutic alliance with their telephone coach and high satisfaction with our services.

We work closely with our Provincial Governments and Health Authorities across Canada to maintain a standard of care that provides strong outcomes of success. Because of our funding partnerships and the generosity of our corporate partners, all services are free to Canadians in our funded areas.

SFI is data-driven, providing regular reports on our outcomes to ensure accountability for our standard of quality care. Our impacts on mental health conditions are consistently strong at above 85% outcome success. Our attrition rate is very low (<10%) and clients report high satisfaction with our services.

Our Vision

To close the gap in health care so help is accessible to all

Our Mission

Our mission is to leverage innovation, research, and highly-skilled staff to deliver evidence-based education programs and technical services to enhance well-being and quality of life for all.

Our Brand Promise

To remove the barriers to care

Our Story


Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, President & CEO

Our Story


Dr. Patrick McGrath, Expert Advisor