Here2Talk offers students free 24-7 mental health help during the holidays

THIS holiday season is challenging for everyone, and post-secondary students have a free, 24-7 counselling and referral service available to them through Here2Talk, says the Province.

“The holidays will look different this year, and we remain committed to providing the supports students have called for to ensure they are addressing any mental health issues, as they arise,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “It’s OK to not feel OK and there is help available 24-7 because loneliness, stress, anxiety and mental health needs aren’t on a schedule.”

Here2Talk is a free mental health counselling and referral service that provides year-round, 24-7 mental health support services for all B.C. post-secondary students regardless of whether they live in Canada or abroad. Students who are feeling depressed, stressed or anxious can get support whenever they need it and as often as needed.

“B.C. students are struggling with pressures far beyond their course loads, as they navigate remote learning, housing, employment and isolation during the pandemic,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Any student who needs mental health support, please reach out for help. Here2Talk is available to you whenever you need it.”

Students can access chat sessions with a trained counsellor online at Here2Talk or by downloading the free Here2Talk app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. They can speak with a counsellor by phone toll-free at 1 877 857-3397 or direct at 604 642-5212. Students calling from outside Canada can dial +1 604 642-5212 (international calling charges may apply).

Here2Talk call and chat services are available in English and French, with some additional languages, such as Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and Arabic, supported over the phone based on availability to call centre providers. If a language-specific counsellor is not available at the time of the call, services are offered in English and supported by a third-party translation service as required and as available.

In addition to Here2Talk, there are other supports available to students on or off campus and in the community, including virtual mental health supports available on the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ website. Many post-secondary institutions have extended the holiday break by up to one week, recognizing the additional pressures many students face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Improving mental health in post-secondary institutions is an integral part of government’s actions outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making the system of mental health and addictions care better for people, no matter where they live in the province.

Jonny Morris, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, B.C. Division, said: “Students feeling overwhelmed by the impacts of COVID-19 on their studies and lives are not alone. They have been coping with the pandemic as well as new and challenging learning environments, all while managing the pressures and transitions in student life. As we head into the holidays, these concerns can feel even more pronounced. Here2Talk is an excellent confidential and real-time resource for students that is aligned with existing services on campuses and in their communities.”

Jennifer Gullins, Okanagan College Students’ Union representative, said: “This year has been really stressful for me as a student during this challenging time with online learning, a loss of my college community and a physical separation from my friends and family. Knowing that support is a confidential call or text away has been reassuring. I really encourage students to reach out if they need help. It’s OK to ask for help and you don’t have to navigate the impacts of 2020 alone.”

Quick Facts

* Youth between the ages of 15 and 24 years are more likely to report mental illness and/or substance use disorders than other age groups, influenced by pressures ranging from financial stress to personal relationships, academics, sleep problems and stigma in seeking help.

* Since Here2Talk launched in April 2020 and through October 2020, the service has been accessed almost 5,200 times. Students used the chat feature 75% of the time and the phone call feature 25% of the time.

* The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training invests $1.5 million annually into Here2Talk.

* The on-demand service, operated by Morneau Shepell, supports students dealing with challenges such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, the pressure to perform, crises, racism and relationships.

* Counsellors can refer students to local resources in their communities.

Learn More:

Learn more about Here2Talk:

Learn more about other mental health supports on the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ website: