The BC Government has announced an early launch of its mental health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students. The service, called Here2Talk, is a welcome aid for those currently struggling with the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19.
“Many students struggle to access mental health supports on campuses and in their communities; this has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tanysha Klassen, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students. “The early implementation of this service is going to help so many people struggling right now, and in the future.”
The service, developed with consultation with students, will help students dealing with depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress, racism, relationships, and more. All post-secondary students in every region of the province will be able to access at any time, removing barriers associated with geography and work and school schedules. It offers confidential, free, single-session services by app, phone or online chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Students manage a lot of stressors in their day-to-day life while also attending college or university,” said Klassen, “This stress has only multiplied with the pandemic, making the launch of this service more important than ever.
Two decades of underfunding in the post-secondary education sector has caused tuition fees to dramatically rise, which has resulted in students working longer hours, multiple low-paid jobs, and taking on financial insecurity to complete their studies. Additionally, underfunding has strained institutional budgets, and on-campus supports like counselling have not been able to keep up with the demands of growing student populations. All of this, compounded with a global pandemic, has created insecurity, stress, and exacerbated the lack of supports available for students.
A survey of students by National College Health Association found that 60% of Canadian students reported feeling things were hopeless and 89% of students felt overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do in the previous year. The launch of this program will go a long way to provide students more tailored supports and get students who require long-term supports into community based programs.