Virtual mental health service planned for post-secondary students

A virtual mental health service is in the works specifically geared towards B.C. post-secondary students.

The provincial government announced Wednesday that a notice of planned procurement has been posted to BC Bid, advising of plans to develop a 24/7 mental health and substance-use counselling and referral service.

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According to a government news release, there is no provincewide resource available to post-secondary students, “and where there are resources, students often lack after-hours access.”

"It's critical to provide young people with access to the supports they need, where and when they need them," said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "The use of virtual technology would enable young people from all parts of the province to ask for help once and get help fast."

The scope of the project is for a service that includes phone, online chat, text and email capabilities.

Post-secondary students, aged 15-24, are more likely to report mental illness and/or substance-use disorders than other age groups, said the province.

“The 2016 National College Health Association survey of Canadian post-secondary students found a significant number of students are experiencing mental-health problems and illnesses: 44.4% of surveyed students reported that at some point in the previous 12 months they felt ‘so depressed it was difficult to function’; 13% had seriously considered suicide; 2.1% had attempted suicide and 18.4% reported being ‘diagnosed or treated by a professional’ for anxiety.”

 

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