What to Know About Here2Talk’s Online Mental Health Support for Students

While the service is no replacement for a counsellor, it can be a great place to get help in quarantine

Like many post-secondary students, I am a firm believer in the importance of caring for and maintaining one’s mental health. I believe going to a therapist or a counsellor is just as important as going to a doctor, and I make sure to let those around me know that they are welcome to talk to me about whatever is on their minds, no matter how trivial it might seem.

Unfortunately, like many post-secondary students, I also have trouble taking my own advice — not out of denial or unwillingness, but because more often than not, I have no idea where to start or if I can afford help.  I also have a developmental disability, which complicates the process of finding a counsellor who’s right for me.

So when I first heard that the B.C. government launched a mental health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students earlier than they had originally planned, I was naturally curious and cautiously optimistic. Here2Talk offers confidential, free, single session services by app, phone, or online chat, and it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The prospect of having a person outside of my social circles to talk to sounded appealing, and out of my desire to open up, I decided to take advantage of the new service via online chat.

Before being connected to my counsellor, I was made to fill out a brief, non-invasive questionnaire about my student status, gender identity, and some basic information such as date of birth. After completing the form and waiting for a brief period, I was connected with Sadie*, who was very welcoming and friendly. She encouraged me to talk about what I had been dealing with, and I told her about how much I missed being able to connect with and even hug the people in my life, as well as some issues I was having in my current relationship. Through it all, Sadie listened patiently and attentively, and offered some wise advice that helped me see some of my current issues from a new perspective. More importantly, she continually reassured me that she understood how I felt and where I was coming from, and that it was natural to feel that way. After having kept some of my feelings to myself for so long, being able to divulge them to Sadie, and to receive reassurance in return made some of the weight I had been carrying vanish.

Of course, something that came up during our chat — and that I feel I should mention — is that the support offered by Here2Talk will most likely involve a different counsellor with each session. While such a format can be invaluable for gaining new perspectives, it may not be super helpful for those looking for more continuous support from a specific person. For some students, bc211, Moving Forward Family Services, and KPU Counselling might be a better bet. And if your problem requires immediate intervention, call 9-1-1.

* Note: The name of the counsellor mentioned in this article was changed to preserve their privacy.

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