Canada-wide text message help line aims to reach youth in crisis
'It's been a way that youth have been asking to be able to reach the help that they need'
A new Canada-wide crisis text messaging support line is available for young Islanders looking for help.
People in need of help can type the word talk to 686868 and will be connected to a trained volunteer crisis responder. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"It's been a way that youth have been asking to be able to reach the help that they need," said Shelley Richardson, the director of development for the Kids Help Phone in Atlantic Canada.
The organization said 42 per cent of young people would rather write than speak about their problems and 71 per cent of young people prefer a non-verbal form of communication such as texting.
Kids Help Phone in Atlantic Canada has been keeping an eye on statistics since a pilot project in Manitoba earlier this year, Richardson said.
Since its soft launch in February there have been more than 13,000 text conversations between youth and crisis responders. The average texting session lasts about 40 minutes.
The top three issues discussed over text conversations so far have been anxiety, depression and relationships.
Kids Help Phone estimates about 11 per cent of those using the service identify as Indigenous and 22 per cent identify as pan-sexual or bi-sexual.
About 87 per cent of people texting reported feeling at least one of the following after having communication with a crisis responder: less alone, less distressed, less upset, more hopeful, more confident and more in-control.
"It's free and it allows kids in rural and remote locations to access mental health support, which they may otherwise have not had the ability to receive," Richardson said.
More P.E.I. news
With files from Laura Chapin