BY CASSIDY FOULDS
Every post-secondary student in Ontario has felt the heavy weight of stress. Whether that stress is due to studies, home life, familial matters, work or addictions, they all agree it feels great to get it off their chests in a healthy, safe way. An Ontario helpline can help with that.
“The latest National College Health Assessment survey found that nearly 90 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students feel overwhelmed during school, and 13 per cent had seriously considered suicide,” said Megan Van Massenhoven, outreach co-ordinator at Good2Talk. “Those numbers are really high – higher than they should be – and that’s why Good2Talk is so important.”
Good2Talk provides students with confidential, bilingual, professional counselling. They also provide information and referral services all day, every day, 365 days of the year. The program is promoting help-seeking in 37 different Ontario post-secondary campuses. Conestoga College is one of the post-secondary schools that is working in conjunction with Good2Talk.
“I hope it’s a good stepping stone for students to feel comfortable with them getting the help that they need,” said Lynn Robbins White, a counsellor at Conestoga College. “It’s good that, if a counselling office is very busy, students can reach out and get that help. You go to school, it’s busy, it’s stressful, there’s lots going on. You’ve mental health and financial concerns for students, demands and pressures. It’s a good option to be able to find someone at the end of a phone who can help with those services or crisis.”
Good2Talk posters have been put up around Conestoga, advertising the helpline. Students can also go to the Counselling Services office to find cards and pamphlets regarding the service. The service is especially good for students with high anxieties and different social barriers, and it eases help-seekers into a service they may not have ever experienced.
“It’s completely free to call Good2Talk, and through the campaign we’re helping students understand that it doesn’t have to be a crisis to give Good2Talk a call,” said Van Massenhoven.
“Professional counsellors on the helpline can help students work through any challenge impacting their well-being, as well as help them locate additional resources on and off campus.”
So far, the service has been successful. According to a Good2Talk evaluation summary, 94 per cent of the callers who used Good2Talk said they’d call again, 89 per cent said they felt less distressed after a call, 85 per cent felt more aware of their personal strengths and 87 per cent felt there were more options.
“We want post-secondary students in Ontario to know that, if something is stressing them out, it is a big deal and they should seek the support they need. What we’ve found is that, with growing public awareness about mental health, students are far more likely to be willing to reach out about mental health concerns, but many students are still not sure where to turn when they need help,” said Van Massenhoven. ”We’re excited to bring it to the attention of thousands of students across Ontario.”
Students can access Good2Talk’s assistance and resources at 1-866-925-5454. They can find additional information and options at Good2Talk.ca.