Government of Canada funds Kids Help Phone to expand mental health services for Afghan and Ukrainian youth

·2 min read

The Government of Canada has announced a contribution agreement with Kids Help Phone to provide counselling services for Afghan and Ukrainian youth in Dari, Pashto, Ukrainian and Russian.

The announcement was made by the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

Since 1989, Kids Help Phone has provided free, 24/7, confidential mental health resources to young people across Canada.

The Minister visited the Kids Help Phone office in Toronto where he saw firsthand how funding provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is being used to expand phone counselling services to Afghan and Ukrainian youth.

The government says these new services respond to the urgent need faced by youth fleeing conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

This funding is part of a larger $2 million agreement that will allow Kids Help Phone to gradually expand its professional phone counselling service via interpreters to 100 languages by 2025 and builds on the previous introduction of Arabic and Mandarin interpretation in 2019.

There are more than 500 service provider organizations across Canada that are funded by IRCC to deliver settlement services to permanent residents, including resettled refugees, and to Ukrainians arriving in Canada under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel. Many of these organizations offer support directly to youth.

Sean Fraser, the Minister of Immigration, said that the government needed to ensure newcomers have access to resources to cope with past trauma and rebuild their lives.

‘Creating this culturally sensitive, accessible safe space is especially important when it comes to vulnerable youth, and this funding will ensure that those fleeing conflict—including Afghans and Ukrainians—have the support they need to reach their full potential while in Canada’, he said.

Jamal Khan, a young Afghan who arrived in Canada last year after fleeing the war-torn country, welcomed the initiative.

‘Although we are physically in a safer place than we were last year, there still remains a lot in form of mental trauma that needs to be taken care of’, he said.

He hoped to take advantage of the program once it goes live and encouraged others in risk groups to not shy away from topics related to mental health and asking for help if need be.

Saeed Akhtar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter

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