The operators of Kids Help Phone in Calgary are hoping to raise $2 million to expand their internet services.

The counselling centre provides an online chat service, but vice-president Alisa Simon says people are waiting for up to two hours to take part.

"Live chat is the new way young people are saying they want to reach out and get help. So it is absolutely a top priority that we are there for them in the way they want to connect with a counsellor."

Kids Help Phone wants to expand the online chat service from four to seven days a week.

The average phone call with a counsellor lasts about 14 minutes, but young people are staying connected to the online chat for an average of 44 minutes.

"They bring really serious issues to live chat. So we get a lot more disclosures of abuse or neglect," said Simon.

Training costs

The training for online counsellors can be extensive because it includes having to learn the short forms used for chatting, such as brb (be right back). 

Alisa Smith says it is also more challenging for online counsellors to assess the person they are chatting with.

"You have none of those verbal cues when you are on live chat. So you have to check in with the person in a really different way. So you have to say to them, on a scale of 1–10, how are you feeling right now."

Kids Help Phone has released the results of two studies that looked at the effectiveness of its counselling services.

According to the results, 73 per cent of respondents said they had a plan for dealing with their problem after they accessed Kids Help Phone.