University students face some of the most intense pressures of their lives while away at school: grades, roommate drama, money troubles, substance use and abuse, etc. These are just some of the issues that can hinder a student’s ability to maintain a healthy mental and emotional state. For younger children, there is Kids Help Phone, but what about a help line for older students?

Good2Talk is a post-secondary helpline offered by the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and it can be accessed in a variety of ways. The helpline is a collaboration between organizations like Kids Help Phone, ConnexOntario, and the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Children and Youth Mental Health. “The latest National College Health Assessment survey found that nearly 90 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students feel overwhelmed during school, and 13 per cent had seriously considered suicide,” said Megan Van Massenhoven, outreach co-ordinator at Good2Talk.

“Those numbers are really high — higher than they should be — and that’s why Good2Talk is so important. We want post-secondary students in Ontario to know that if something is stressing them out, it is a big deal, and they should seek the support they need,” Van Massenhoven said.

Many students may feel that talking to someone about their problems means they are mentally ill or can’t handle their workload. This is an incorrect assumption that can be harmful. Helplines like Good2Talk are perfect for university students because it allows them to share their problems with someone who they will feel be willing to hear out their concerns and who they can feel comfortable discussing any issue with, possibly made easier through the lack of personal connection.

Calling in to Good2Talk affords students the opportunity to unload all their worries on a totally neutral party and then, if they choose, make a plan to help them in the future.

Van Massenhoven added that the helpline can also guide students to other resources. “It’s completely free to call Good2Talk, and through the campaign we’re helping students understand that it doesn’t have to be a crisis to give Good2Talk a call — professional counsellors on the helpline can help students work through any challenge impacting their well-being, as well as help them locate additional resources on and off campus,” Van Massenhoven said.

Many students at UW are excited for a non-judgmental option for de–stressing.

“I’m glad something like this is available. I like talking to people about my problems, but friends and families can be so judgy sometimes. I like the idea of talking on the phone too; it’s way less pressure,” said Erin Campbell, a UW post-grad.

Good2Talk specifically focuses on college and university students in Ontario and has been welcomed and appreciated by students at these institutions.

Van Massenhoven said, “The service has been an overwhelming success so far — 94 per cent of callers who used Good2Talk said they would call again, and 89 per cent said they felt less distressed after they called — and we’re excited to bring it to the attention of thousands of students across Ontario.”

The Good2Talk Helpline is available 24/7/365 and can be reached toll-free at 1-866-925-5454 or you can connect through 2-1-1 from anywhere in Ontario.