The province has announced free counselling services to all students currently registered in studies at B.C. post-secondary schools, as worries remain high due to the ongoing pandemic.
The new program, called Here2Talk, will be available 24-7 through an app, hotline and online chat. It’s a resource that has been in development for several months, but was expedited as young people face the implications of COVID-19 from losing jobs to changes in their studies.
“With the advent of COVID-19 and the increased stress it puts on students, we doubled down to get students the supports they so desperately need,” Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark said during a news conference on Thursday (April 16).
This is the second announcement by the province this month related to mental health. Last week, the province announced $5 million for a suite of new programs targeted to youth, Indigenous people and first responders who are struggling through this period of uncertainty.
Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions on mental health services for post-secondary students.
For more information related to COVID-19: https://t.co/5CXfmkAhVP #COVIDBC
— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) April 16, 2020
The estimated cost for the program is $1.5 million per year for the next three years. There are roughly 555,000 registered post-secondary students in B.C.
“Now every student can access supports 24-7 without stigma or judgment – and it’s free, because access to mental-health care shouldn’t depend on the size of your bank account,” Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said in a statement.
Students can speak to a counsellor by phone, toll-free at 1-877-857-3397 or direct 604-642-5212. Students calling from outside Canada can dial 1-604-642-5212. Services are currently available in English and French but additional languages will be made available by request.