Online, text, phone, mental health services to get $14.5M from province

The Alberta government is spending $14.5 million over three years to provide more access to phone and online mental health services via Kids Help Phone and 211. 

Kids Help Phone will get $6.75 million to expand its online and telephone counselling service. 

The province is spending another $7.5 million on a digital hub which would allow people who phone or text 211 to get connected with services that are most appropriate for their needs. 

Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, said post-secondary students prefer counselling via text or the internet. 

"You can access professional counsellors online, the minute you want it, whether its through your phone, through your text messages," he said. "To me, that's so tailored to this population."

Stephanie Wright, provincial manager for 211, said people who reach her service can talk to somebody right away. 

"They are trained to help you identify what your immediate needs are," she said. 

"Sometimes people say, 'Well, I'm just feeling overwhelmed,' and so our community resource specialists can help talk with you to figure out what exactly is going on for you right now and what may be the best support for you." 

Wright says 211 service is already available around the clock by phone in many areas of Alberta. This year 211 expanded to allow responses to text and online chat around the clock.