Convenience is key for student helpline

Good2Talk’s 24/7 helpline, George Brown counselling services aim to help students with their mental health and well-being

Mental health can be a hard topic to discuss, but with mental illness affecting at least one in every five Canadians, it is something that touches all of us. Students in particular can be at a higher risk for mental health distress, given the weight of school, relationships and financial demands.

Counselling services are often an outlet for releasing many of these worries. Although students may seek assistance for a number of reasons, there is a common denominator among many.

“Quite a few come with mental health concerns, and their mental health concerns definitely impact their academics,” George Brown College (GBC) counsellor Lavlet Forde explained.

Especially when looking at the events happening in the world right now, it is important to be aware of the effects that these, as well as personal life issues, can have on someone’s mental health.

Students can already access counselling services at the Casa Loma, St. James and Waterfront campuses, but a new helpline has made it more convenient to access counselling.

Good2Talk is a 24 hour a day, seven days a week hotline for post-secondary students in Ontario experiencing challenges with mental health and well-being, as well as substance use.

The helpline, which was developed with funding from the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (now the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESU), is meant to help students with everything from a recent traumatic event to roommate drama. Good2Talk’s helpline is confidential and offers counselling in both English and French. Since its launch in 2013, the helpline has received calls from more than 60,000 students, according to a MAESU spokesperson.

Good2Talk’s service hours are a direct response to the reality that personal challenges don’t keep business hours.

“We always have that live answer person to help you figure out what you need, because sometimes when you’re dealing with a really stressful issue you don’t know what you need, so we have someone that can help you sort that out,” said Megan Van Massenhoven, an outreach coordinator with Good2Talk.

Good2Talk aims to be “a baby step before going to speak to someone in person,” Van Massenhoven added.

GBC has been holding annual mental health conferences for the past 17 years to discuss the effects of mental health challenges on students’ overall wellness. This year’s conference will be held in April, with a chosen theme of resilience. This comes at a most appropriate time, when students are in great need of mental health resiliency.

For a person who has never tried counselling services before, the idea of discussing your problems with a stranger may seem unnerving.

“Across the population, there are going to be some individuals with mental health concerns who are going to be hesitant to access the services, for a variety reasons,” said Forde.

The number for the Good2Talk helpline is 1-866-925-5454. Full-time students can also get counselling services at St. James (room 582C), Casa Loma (room C317), and Waterfront (room 225).

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Convenience is key for student helpline