The Mental Health Epidemic

Mental health has slowly become a focus in Canada, and rightfully so - in any given year, mental illness affects 1 of every 5 Canadians. Brave people have been publicly speaking out about their personal experiences, companies like Bell are breaking down stigmas while raising money for mental health support, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada has been working to implement priority areas identified in the Mental Health Strategy for Canada- but in the winter of 2016, it got personal in our office.

Our Story

It all started when...

Scott Borys (one of our two business partners) had a major depressive episode and took a leave from work - he didn’t know what was going on, and desperately needed to figure it out. As a company, we fully supported him.

As a Territorial Partner, Scott wears a lot of hats and his absence affected our operations. Our workflow and company focus needed to change. We dedicated the majority of our resources to Curbie and International Road Dynamics (IRD), and worked with them to build a digital products that would transform their business procedures. Those products resulted in the $63.5m acquisition of IRD and Curbie’s $2m initial round of funding.

Scott as a sad ghost


Scott started tracking his daily activities with the goal of finding some answers. His doctor was stunned by the results. Scott’s data tracking showed correlations between his activities, diet, exercise, medication changes, and his mental health. It lead to a much faster mental health diagnosis of a bipolar spectrum disorder rather than the depression they had been treating him for.

During Scott’s depressive episode, his partner and friends were attempting to support him – but they often didn’t know how. While they had great intentions, they were afraid that what they said or did might make matters worse. As a result, Scott realized he needed to train his friends and family how to best support him. While it would help him in the long run, it was an exhausting and onerous task on top of the work it took to take care of himself.

Scott as a ghost teaching other ghosts

Nine months later...

Scott came back to work. He and Daren McLean (Territorial’s other Partner), hunted for a silver lining in his experience. Should we write a book? Should we start sharing this experience through public speaking events? And then they realized, we should do what we do best - create a digital product. Something that could help people the way Scott helped himself, and ideally, fill the social support gaps he found.

Scott and Daren high-fiving

Territorial Team

As each Territorial team member has either been greatly impacted by or personally struggled with mental health, the idea was a grand slam. We all recognised the personal and social impact a tool like this could have.

A nice picture of Scott

Scott Borys

Product Owner

  • Vision from lived experience
  • Roadmap
  • Requirements
  • Development
A nice picture of Scott

Daren McLean

Business Development

  • Market research and analysis
  • Commercialization
  • Partnerships
A nice picture of Sarah

Sarah Etter

Lead Developer

  • Architecture
  • DevOps
  • Development
  • Testing
A nice picture of Kirstie

Kirstie Seier

Design Lead

  • Market research and analysis
  • Interface Design
  • Branding
  • Copywriting

Additional project support from:

Zach Perkins

UX / Design

Ozzie Neher


Vero Kokolus

Research & Project Management

Daniela Flores


Arianne Butler



Being a full time creative agency, we continued to work on client projects while Scott spearheaded Hugr. He began to map out a collection of features and tools that he had roughly pieced together with spreadsheets and books during his personal journey. Then, with the path forward being roughly plotted, the rest of us pitched in ideas from our own experiences; it required a whole new level of team vulnerability and trust.

With proper care and treatment, 70-90% of people living with mental illness notice a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life.

Laurel House

Screens of different designs in discovery phase

Problem Definition

Hugr is currently being made from personal experience, but it’s also filling a gap in the digital mental health market. Other tracking apps and social support apps exist, but Hugr is the only product that integrates mental health education, real life social support, and tracking. By straddling these two worlds, Hugr is able to create a unique and powerful feature set that unites the current category divide.

Product Refinement

As with any complex digital product, we needed to define our initial ‘must haves’ from the huge list of desired features–because we know as well as anyone that you have to walk before you can run. Scott worked with our team to determine a blend of tracking, crisis, and social tools–including a message board, wellness contracts, and an emergency notification system–to establish a base of features that meet core needs.

With goals set, Sarah and Ozzie jumped into development, Zach and Daniela started UX design and prototyping, Kirstie began to create the brand and interface, Daren started on sales, and Scott continued to steer the ship. The team worked closely for optimal communication and speed.


Five months later, we had a beta version. The experience that could have led to speaking engagements, or writing a book, has become so much more.

Looking ahead, we see Hugr becoming a tool that’s integrated into the lives of people with and without mental illness. We see an app that connects people to their friends and family, as depression often leads people to cut ties and isolate themselves. We see people making well informed choices based on their tracking correlations, because Hugr shows long term data that gives objective perspective. We see the stigma of mental illness melting away because Hugr educates and bridges communication gaps. We see people living to their fullest with family, friends, and at work - because when bad days happen, they have support, tools, and a plan to get back on track.

Screens of different designs in refinement phase

What's Next?

Some of our vision for Hugr will be accomplished with features, design, and technology - but the the biggest and best progress will be made with people like you. We need people who will become steady users; test and give feedback; advise us with psychological and social expertise; contribute research; support friends and family; and encourage Hugr’s use in the workplace. With contributors, we’ll be incorporating feedback, testing, adding features, testing, and repeating the cycle–making Hugr the best tool it can be and staying up to date with user needs.

Check out Hugr

Get Involved

Territorial has been around since 2005, and we plan to stick around for a very, very long time. We’ve earned our stars doing branding, marketing, and websites, honing our skills in development, design, and strategy. Now, we’re tackling a whole new world. If you have an idea or a desire to be involved, we'd love to hear from you.

Circular image of Daren McLean

Daren McLean

Territorial Partner