The B.C. government is working on a 24/7 counselling service for post-secondary students.
The Ministry of Advanced Education announced Wednesday that it posted a notice of planned procurement on BC Bid, and that a competitive process would be posted in the days ahead.
The project will look to include phone, online chat, text and email components.
There is currently no province-wide resource to provide post-secondary students with mental health support, and schools are often unable to offer after-hours access to such services.
“The use of virtual technology would enable young people from all parts of the province to ask for help once and get help fast,” said Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy.
The project stems from research showing that post-secondary students aged 15 to 24 are more likely to report mental illness or substance use problems than any other age group.
According to a 2016 National College Health Association survey, 44 per cent of Canadian students reported feeling “so depressed it was difficult to function” within the previous year, while 13 per cent said they had seriously considered suicide.
A further two per cent reported they had attempted suicide, while 18 per cent said they were diagnosed or treated by a professional for anxiety.
“Adjusting to a new environment, learning to balance classes with new jobs, new friendships and relationships can be challenging for students who may be living away from home for the first time, far from friends and family,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.
“Whether mild or severe, mental-health concerns are very real among post-secondary students who have been calling for action to this important issue on- and off-campus.”
Resources currently available can be found on the government’s website.
If you or anyone you know needs support for depression or suicide-related mental health problems, call the Canadian Assistance in Suicide Prevention 24/7 hotline at 1-888-353-2273.