MIRA Chat Group

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions. Contact us if the answer to your question is not here!

A: MIRA is a chatbot, which is a computer program or software application that is programmed to have a human-like conversation with a person.

MIRA uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (including Natural Language Processing), which means that it is programmed to try to understand the meaning behind what a human is saying to it, in order to figure out how best to respond and help that person. It also means, the more conversations it has with individuals, the more it will learn from those conversations over time, and the smarter it will get.

The MIRA chatbot is specifically programmed to help individuals find more information on mental health services and programs. It can also provide information on general or specific mental health related topics.

It is not a mental health professional. It cannot give medical advice and is not a counsellor. It does not provide treatment recommendations and cannot diagnose people.

A: MIRA is first being piloted out to healthcare workers and their families in Alberta and Nova Scotia, and you must be over 18 to use it, as it has been made to support an adult population.

After we pilot MIRA, we plan to expand services to support more and more people across Canada (see our graphic below). We also will add more complex types of artificial intelligence, like sentiment analysis. So MIRA will continue to get better and better every year!

MIRA Phases

A: Because mental health is health. And mental health services in Canada should be free.

We live in Canada. Mental health should be free, as part of Universal Healthcare. We are developing this technology so that it can be shared, to support as many people in Canada as we can because it's the right thing to do.

A: No, MIRA is meant to complement the health system, and support other health system services, not replace or compete with existing services and programs.

A: Popular search engines may include information that is factually incorrect (including misinformation), broken links, or low-quality information. Because of this, MIRA does not draw resource recommendations from the open internet. Instead MIRA uses resources that have been vetted for quality in our MIRA Resource Library.

The MIRA resource library includes over 700 resources covering over 100 different mental health topics that have been reviewed by members of a multi-disciplinary Expert Advisory Committee, inclusive of Individuals with Lived Experience, Members of the Indigenous Community, nurses, doctors/psychiatrists, mental health system navigators, public health policy makers, and others. Learn more about the MIRA Resource Library HERE.

A: MIRA seeks to help individuals find information on mental health services and programs. It can also provide information on general or specific mental health related topics.

It is not a mental health professional. It cannot give medical advice and is not a counsellor. It does not provide treatment recommendations and cannot diagnose people.

A: No, there is no human monitoring or participating in your conversation. When you are talking to MIRA, you are speaking with a computer program only.

A: MIRA stands for Mental Health Intelligent Information Resource Assistant.

We chose this name because MIRA has a bunch of meanings that we thought were cool:

  • Mira is a red-giant star estimated to be 200–400 light-years from the Sun in the constellation Cetus.
  • Romance languages: related to the Latin words for 'wonder' and 'wonderful'.
  • South Slavic languages: means 'peace’;
  • Albanian: 'goodness' or 'kindness’.
  • Sanskrit: means 'ocean', 'sea', 'limit', or 'boundary’.

We chose the imagery of the lighthouse as part of the MIRA logo because of its symbolism. More specifically, lighthouses are often depicted as symbols of strength, hope, and resilience among turbulent ocean waters - helping weary seafarers navigate to safety.

A: Under these conditions, it is important that you contact emergency health and police services by calling 9-1-1 or Crisis Services Canada at 833-456-4566. MIRA cannot provide medical services. A health professional is best to help in this situation.

A: You can access MIRA here, using the internet browser on your phone and/or on your computer. You can also add MIRA to the homepage of your phone by following these easy steps:

MIRA Access

A: MIRA was born from a vision that mental health services should be accessible and free. MIRA belongs to Canadians. As such, we would like to invite organizations from small community centres, through to large health authorities, to use MIRA for free.

Contact us to learn more.

A: We use data collected by the chatbot to train and evaluate the chatbot only.

The computing code and any data collected is stored on a secure server at the University of Alberta.

Data will never be sold.

Because this is an University project, we are required to seek and receive approval from Health Research Ethics Boards in every province where we plan to deploy our chatbot. We are also help to all federal and provincial data protection legislation. Our consent form, which we ask people to agree to before using the chatbot, describes exactly how data is collected, used and destroyed. You can read it and download a copy of the form here.

Building trust

Ethics Badge

Ethics approvals from the Health Research Ethics Board at the University of Alberta, and Nova Scotia Health Authority.

Data Badge

Data is collected anonymously, and user identities protected.

Research Badge

Research will follow all federal and provincial data protection legislation.

Consent Badge

All participants provide informed consent.

Secure Badge

Data is password protected and stored on a secure server in Canada at the University of Alberta.

A: MIRA is being co-created with the Indigenous Community.

MIRA is being co-created with the Indigenous researchers and advisors. Meaning, members of our Executive team and our Expert Advisory Committee who identify as members of Indigenous Communities, are directing how research methodologies will be structured and are directing our team on best practices around data use, including ensuring we follow the First Nations Principle of Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) as outlined by the First Nations Information Governance Centre. In consideration of anticipated expanded inclusion of Indigenous communities within Canada, it is important for the project to include Indigenous communities and voices into the evaluation of the chatbot (MIRA) and development of future stages of the chatbot. Collection of any story (data) from Indigenous peoples (First Nation, Métis, Inuit, Status, Non-Status, and Foreign Indigenous) will follow OCAP’s principles and be paired with utilization of best practices for community-based research with and for Indigenous Communities. Collection of all stories (data) will be transparent, consensual, and private.

Additionally, several other non-Indigenous members of our team, including our Research Coordinator, have successfully completed “The Fundamentals of OCAP ®,” an online training course developed by the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) in partnership with Algonquin College Corporate Training. Finally, the team will aim to protect all Indigenous participants from harms of story (data) incursion by safely securing the data on University of Alberta servers that will only be accessible to the senior team member Dr. Simon Lambert PhD and research assistant Dylan Merrick M.A.