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Here2Talk: Free app offers mental health counselling for B.C.’s post-secondary students

Studying for exams, finding housing and employment during the pandemic, and adjusting to new social and academic settings are just some of the challenges facing students right now. And it can have a big impact on their mental health.

So says Education and Skills Training Minister Anne Kang, as she points to Here2Talk, the province’s free online and virtual counselling service, accessed over the phone, the downloadable Here2Talk app, or through online chat sessions.

It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all part- and full-time students registered in a B.C. college, university, institute, or trades program, whether they’re in Canada or abroad, with some materials provided in other languages like Mandarin and Punjabi.

Similar to Kang, on Vancouver Island, North Island College Students’ Union advocacy organiser, Rebecca Lennox, finds local students are dealing with “a lot of pretty major problems.”

“Almost anyone we talk to is having a hard time finding housing, for instance. We’re also finding students are graduating with higher and higher amounts of student debt, and then the cost of living continues to climb,” Lennox told Vista Radio.

According to the Province, post-secondary students between 15 and 24 are more likely to report mental health concerns than any other age group. In fact, last year, students accessed Here2Talk more than 14,100 times, with 76 per cent indicating that it provided them with the supports they needed.

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“Students should not have to cope with mental health challenges alone. Here2Talk reduces the stigma around mental health so that more students can have courageous conversations and get the help they need,” added Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

Here2Talk is a component of A Pathway to Hope, the government’s 10-year vision to make the system of mental health and addiction care better for people no matter where they live in B.C.

New resources help EASE anxiety in grade 8-12 students:

High-school teachers now have new classroom resources to help students manage anxiety with Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators (EASE) 8-12, the Province announced today (Oct. 7).

EASE was first launched in 2019 to provide kindergarten to Grade 7 educators with adaptable online materials. Since then, EASE at Home launched, and now, it’s expanding for students in Grades 8 through 12.

Materials focus on breathing, mindfulness and coping skills, the Province explains, plus strategies to tackle procrastination, test anxiety, and more.

The school-based resources are free and available to educators, school counsellors and support staff within school districts, independent schools and First Nations schools. Find more details here.

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