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Stress Management

The “Happiest” Season Is Also the Toughest Season for Many Canadians

Sponsored by:
Influential Canadians Vivek Shraya, Andrian Makhnachov, and Jamie Pandit
Sponsored by:
Influential Canadians Vivek Shraya, Andrian Makhnachov, and Jamie Pandit

AnnMarie Churchill

Clinical Social Worker & President & Lead Executive Officer, Stepped Care Solutions

The holidays are a challenging time for many Canadians — but fortunately, mental health and substance use support is available.

As people across the country begin to prepare for the holiday season, more than half will face feelings of anxiety and depression.


To shine a spotlight on the pressure and loneliness that many face, Wellness Together Canada, the nation’s first and only online platform offering free, accessible mental wellness and substance use health support for people in Canada of all ages, has created #RealHolidayTales

The digital campaign will reach out to people across the country who might be experiencing feelings of anxiety, loneliness, or isolation this holiday season and let them know that they’re not alone and that support is available. 

Sharing personal stories 

“The holidays can be wonderful for some, and hard for others. The hustle and bustle can be very stressful, triggering difficult feelings — especially for those who may struggle with challenging family relationships,” says AnnMarie Churchill, a clinical social worker and President and Lead Executive Officer at Stepped Care Solutions. 

To support people through the holiday season, Wellness Together Canada sought the insights of influential Canadians Vivek Shraya, Andrian Makhnachov, and Jamie Pandit to share their lived experiences. 

“I find that you can be around people and not be alone, but still feel lonely,” says Pandit, a transgender content creator. “There’s this pressure to socialize with people because it’s the holidays and you should be happy, and it’s a time of celebration, but it doesn’t always feel like that.”   

During the conversation, Makhnachov shared warm memories of gathering with his family in the Ukraine and the difficulties of being away from them. Shraya talked about starting new traditions with chosen family, and gave tips on how to run toward love and take the pressure off during an already busy time of year. Pandit explored how her experience of the holiday season changed as her relationships with family members evolved over the years.

Supporting Canadians

“There’s no right way to feel or be during the holidays,” says Churchill. “Many people experience a wide range of emotions — it isn’t a joyous time for everyone, and that’s OK. Being transparent about the realities many of us face during the holidays can help to reduce feelings of isolation. For those who need support, Wellness Together Canada is here for you, during the holidays or any time throughout the year.” 

Mental health service providers nationwide continue to experience unprecedented demands as Canadians struggle to deal with the mental health impacts of financial uncertainty and the complex challenges brought about by the long-term effects of the pandemic and global conflicts, among other things. 

Wellness Together Canada supports people in every province and territory and in both official languages. The program provides free, 24/7 counselling support with little to no wait times.  

If you or anyone you know is struggling this holiday season, visit

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