Video by Amir P. Tabrizian-pour
By Emily Westover
Students can access immediate mental health support by calling a new 24-hour helpline funded by the province, bypassing longer-than-usual wait times for counselling services at Ryerson.
“This year we’ve seen increase in students asking for counselling appointments,” said Dr. Su-Ting Teo, director of health and wellness at Ryerson. “It’s normal for the counselling centre to get busy approaching midterms, but this year it’s been busy right from the start.
Good2Talk, the first phone line offering mental health counselling to post-secondary students, was launched last Friday as part of Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. The line is accessible to students 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“The people behind Good2Talk are understanding to the situation that students are going through,” said Teo. “They’ve done a lot of research on what services are available to students and the unique issues faced.”
Students who call the line will anonymously and confidentially be put in touch with professional counsellors who can provide expert referrals to local health services if needed.
Statistics show that one in five Canadians are dealing with some form of mental health issue, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Seventy per cent of mental illness and addictions begin in adolescence.
“We must ensure that students have access to more support and better mental health services,” said Brad Duguid, minister of training, colleges and universities, at Friday’s launch. “Young peoples’ mental health needs don’t just happen 9 to 5 or Monday to Friday.”
Kids Help Phone is one of four organizations delivering Good2Talk for an estimated cost of $2 million a year, a less than one per cent chunk of the province’s $257-million Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
“Our collective goal must be to ensure that every young person in this province has every opportunity to attend and succeed in our post-secondary education system,” said Duguid.
While the helpline is available for immediate assistance, counselling or therapy is still necessary in some situations.
“The line is a complement to counselling, not a replacement,” said Teo. “It’s used to help students in the moment, to help find a plan for moving forward.”
Teo said in-person counselling varies depending on the issue and could take a number of years.
Students can reach the line by calling 1-866-925-5454.