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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

University of Guelph students to pilot new crisis text line

University of Guelph students now have access to a new Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone that will offer mental health support when they need it. This free service will offer immediate support to all U of G students by text message with a Kids Help Phone volunteer Crisis Responder.

"University can create a lot of pressure for students, and we're delighted to offer another source of support to them," says Alison Burnett, Director of Student Wellness at the University of Guelph. "We want our students to know that it's ok to not be ok, and it's ok to ask for help. And this text service is available whenever they need it."

The University of Guelph was selected as the first university to pilot the new Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, which offers free, 24/7 texting support, providing students greater access to confidential crisis resolution. The Co-operators has played an active role in this partnership.

"We're proud to be a founding partner of this important service, which gives young people much-needed access to mental health services in the way they most commonly prefer to connect," says Barbara Turley-McIntyre, Vice President, Sustainability and Citizenship at The Co-operators. "Promoting mental wellbeing and destigmatizing mental illness, especially among youth, is an important part of our commitment to build healthier, more sustainable Canadian communities."

To access the new text service, students just text "UofG" to 686868 using their text or SMS-enabled device. The service does not require a data plan or internet connection.

All texts are directed to Kids Help Phone's trained volunteer Crisis Responders, who will respond to the messages. Kids Help Phone's professional texting supervisors are also available to provide real-time coaching to the volunteers, and to manage escalated situations should an active rescue be required.

Why text-based support? Kids Help Phone research identified that:

• 42% of youth prefer to write rather than speak about their problems, 
• 71% of youth welcome a texting option when discussing their problems, and 
• Non-verbal platforms (e.g., live chats) are more likely to uncover serious, high-risk mental health concerns.

The new texting service began as a pilot in Manitoba and has since expanded to various provinces and territories in the lead up to the service's national launch later in the year. 

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