Free 24/7 mental health service for post-secondary students launches in BC

Apr 16 2020, 1:45 pm

The BC government has launched a new mental health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students.

Known as Here2Talk, the new 24/7 service offers confidential, free single-session services by app, phone, or online chat and is available for all 555,000 post-secondary students registered across the province.

“Until now, post-secondary students have never had access to 24/7 province-wide mental-health support services,” said BC Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark. “Over the past several months, we’ve been working together to develop this new free service.”

And with the “advent of COVID-19” and the increased stress this has put on students, “we doubled down to get students the supports they so desperately need,” said Mark.

With the province providing $1.5 million a year for the program, Here2Talk is intended to complement other supports on campus and in the community, including new virtual mental-health supports that were announced earlier this month.

“For too long, mental-health care was an afterthought in BC, and many post-secondary students weren’t able to access the help they needed. Here2Talk is changing that,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Now every student can access supports 24/7 without stigma or judgment – and it’s free, because access to mental-health care shouldn’t depend on the size of your bank account.”

Chat sessions with a trained counsellor can be accessed by downloading the Here2Talk app or visiting the website.

Students can also 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).

The province said that the service was developed and tailored with feedback from “hundreds” of students throughout the province.

The on-demand service, operated by Morneau Shepell, will support students dealing with challenges such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, pressure to perform, crises, racism, and relationships. Counsellors will also be equipped to refer students to local resources in their communities.

The launch, web, phone, and chat services are currently available in English and French. Phone services are also available in additional languages upon request.

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