Here2Talk: Free counselling services for post-secondary students
In advance of reading week at B.C.’s colleges and universities, students throughout the Province are reminded that mental health support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via Here2Talk, a free online and virtual counselling service.
“Studying for mid-term exams, finding housing and employment during the pandemic and adjusting to new social and academic settings are just some of the challenges students are facing right now,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Education and Skills Training. “That is why the Here2Talk campaign is so important – it lets students know that supports are available to them 24/7 on multiple platforms and in many languages. The campaign also reminds people that their mental health is just as important as everything else.”
Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day. To ensure new and returning students are aware that free, confidential, and immediate counselling is available over the phone, the downloadable Here2Talk app, or through online chat sessions, the Province is relaunching Here2Talk, a provincewide promotional campaign.
“Students should not have to cope with mental health challenges alone,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Here2Talk reduces the stigma around mental health so that more students can have courageous conversations and get the help they need.”
Melissa Chirino, chair for the British Columbia Federation of Students, said: “Being a student is harder than ever. Students face many challenges, whether it’s living alone for the first time or struggling financially. The high cost of education and living causes strain on students’ mental health. There is a need for support and Here2Talk can help students when they need it.”
The program is available to all part- and full-time students registered in a B.C. college, university, institute, or trades program, whether they are in Canada or abroad. As part of the campaign, some materials will be provided in languages, including Mandarin and Punjabi, to help spread messaging about mental health supports.
Shareable content will also be distributed to all public colleges and universities, while print and digital ads will run through the next two months, during the upcoming holiday season, and during mid-terms and final exams – periods when stress levels commonly escalate.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be able to foster such an immediate connection with students on the Here2Talk App,” said Kelly, a Here2Talk client care counsellor who asked their real name not be used for privacy reasons. “It takes such courage for a student to reach out and share how they feel and I’m blown away by what an impact it can have on someone’s life to be heard, supported and, most importantly, to understand that they’re not alone.”
Jonathan Morris, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association of British Columbia, said: “We know that being a post-secondary student can be challenging. In addition to the impacts of the pandemic, being away from home, an increased workload, meeting new people, and having new experiences can all be stressful and cause feelings of anxiousness. Here2Talk provides a 24/7 care service and complements vital on-campus counselling support programs.”
The program is a component of A Pathway to Hope, government’s 10-year vision to make the system of mental-health and addictions care better for people no matter where they live in B.C.
- Post-secondary students between 15 and 24 are more likely to report mental health concerns than any other age group.
- In 2020, students accessed Here2Talk services more than 14,100 times.
- Students’ satisfaction with the service is high: 76% say it provided them with the support and tools they needed, while 74% said they would refer a friend or classmate to Here2Talk.
- To date, 45% of students who used Here2Talk had never previously sought out any support services while in school.
Chat sessions with a trained counsellor can be accessed by downloading the Here2Talk app or visiting: here2talk.ca
Students can speak to a counsellor by phone, toll free at 1 877 857-3397 or direct 604 642-5212. Students calling from outside Canada can dial 1 604 642-5212 (international calling charges may apply).