Help is always just a phone call away

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

As midterms and papers continue, students may find themselves stressed, anxious and unmotivated. Helplines on campus and around Ontario are working to counsel students on mental health issues including depression and suicide.

Good2Talk is a free and anonymous helpline in Ontario that provides professional counselling and referrals to post-secondary students. The helpline serves students between the ages of 17 and 25 and is partnered with ConnexOntario, Kids Help Phone, Ontario 211 and the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health.

Caitlin, a counsellor at Kids Help Line who wished to keep her last name confidential, explained students call the helpline to talk about stress, mental health challenges and things to do with their personal lives. They also help students deal with aspects of school and the challenges of transitioning into adulthood.

“People are not only talking about school-related issues. It’s pretty much anything that they’re kind of experiencing and want a place to get some extra support or have that space to be able to talk about things,” she said.

Of the 1,000 calls per month Good2Talk receives, about 5 per cent are suicide calls.

“We do receive calls where people who have thought about it before or perhaps have attempted suicide in the past and they may be currently receiving support from ongoing services and may use us as kind of that in between support,” Caitlin explained.

Good2Talk usually receives calls from students who are already in the process of recovery, but Good2Talk and other helplines also receive calls from students if they are looking for present support. Students may also call into the free service because they know it’s confidential.

According to Caitlin, counsellors usually handle suicide calls by presenting a risk assessment depending on the caller’s situation.

A high-risk situation may mean the caller has a plan or are in a place to enact a plan. In these cases, counsellors can ask the caller if they are in a safe place and if they are in immediate risk.

“If they were in immediate risk then we would express our deepest concern for that person and their safety and try to get a solution for them,” Caitlin explained.

In these times, counsellors would also try to get the caller’s location and get them immediate help.

In other situations where an individual calls in with suicidal thoughts, counsellors will talk about where the thoughts are coming from, what support the caller has had and will ask questions to help the individual get through their tough time.

“They know that when they call it’s a professional counsellor who they are speaking with and we’re not there to judge people, we’re not there to tell them necessarily what to do. We provide that support where we talk about things that they have available to them,” said Caitlin.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s own campus support service, Peer Help Line, also provides students with resources to help them deal with their mental health or even finding resources around campus.

“If you’re feeling stressed out and worried and you feel like you need help but you’re not exactly sure how to get it or who to go to, then definitely call the line and we can help you out,” said Bridget McDonald, Peer Help Line’s external coordinator.

“We ourselves are not psychotherapists, so we’re the conduit to getting people the help that they need or just a listening service for people who are struggling and need a little bit of a hand,” said McDonald.

McDonald did not comment on the amount of suicide-related calls they receive, but did advise students to call the line for any kind of help.

“We have ‘safe talk’ training, so we can help out in that sort of crisis situation and hopefully get that person to a point where they know the next steps in terms of where to go to get help with that,” McDonald explained.

 

 

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