Post-secondary students across BC will soon have access to a new, province-wide mental health support system.
According to the BC Government, a notice of planned procurement to develop the new resource has been posted on BC Bid.
Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, says that the 24/7 mental health and substance-use counselling and referral service will aim to help students who are struggling with the stress and challenges that come along with balancing school, work, and personal matters.
“Adjusting to a new environment, learning to balance classes with new jobs, new friendships and relationships can be challenging for students who may be living away from home for the first time, far from friends and family,” said Mark in a statement.
“Whether mild or severe, mental-health concerns are very real among post-secondary students who have been calling for action to this important issue on- and off-campus. That’s why our government is working to develop a mental-health service that is available to students around the clock, provincewide.”
A 2016 National College Health Association survey of Canadian post-secondary students found that 44% of respondents felt they were “so depressed it was difficult to function” at some point during the previous 12 months.
Noah Berson, chairperson of the Alliance of BC Students, says that the BC government’s new service is much-needed for students in the province.
“[The] government is responding to pressure from students to take action on improving mental health services,” said Berson in a release.
“No one schedules a time when they need support, so it’s good that a service will be available outside of regular hours for students, regardless of where they’re studying in the province.”
The program will be designed to be accessible via cell phone, online chat, email, and text.
The provincial government says that the 24/7 service is in addition to several other planned initiatives in 2019 to strengthen mental health support for post-secondary students.