Let's give a special shout out to Network faithful ConnecTeen in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We discovered this amazing youth-driven organization a few months ago and have been excited to learn more about their forward thinking use of online access and mobile devices to connect with youth in distress that youth-driven organizations in the United States might learn a thing or two from. Here is how they describe what they do:
- Got a mental health question? Being bullied at school? Feeling depressed or suicidal? ConnecTeen is here to help.
For over 30 years, ConnecTeen has been helping youth who are struggling with any sort of issue or question. A program of Distress Centre Calgary, ConnecTeen serves all youth in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and surrounding areas, providing confidential, non-judgemental peer to peer support with highly trained youth volunteers between the ages of 15 and 21.
We know it can be scary for youth to talk about their problems with an adult or professional, or even with a friend. That’s why youth volunteers are available every day to listen, empathize and help youth work through their problems, safely and confidentially. They can also help connect them with on-going support and resources, like counselling or a team of health professionals when needed.
In Calgary, youth can call 403.264.TEEN (8336) for 24 hour support, or chat online from 5-10 pm MT daily at www.CalgaryConnecTeen.com. They can also e-mail ConnecTeen@distresscentre.com, for less urgent questions and receive an answer within 24-48 hours.
Just this year, ConnecTeen launched a new texting service, where youth in Calgary can text their questions and concerns to 587.333.2724.
What began in 1984 as Teen Line, the first specialized youth peer-support phone line of its kind in Canada, has since evolved into a peer to peer service that uses the most recent technology and communication preferences to reach as many youth as possible.
As call numbers to ConnecTeen have started to drop, the number of online chats, emails and texts has increased dramatically. In the last year alone, ConnecTeen and Distress Centre saw a 739% increase in the number of online crisis chats – and this number is continuing to grow.
With the launch of texting support, ConnecTeen is joining other crisis centres around the world that are recognizing the importance of having their services available online and through mobile devices, to ensure that help is available, comfortable and easy to access for anyone who needs support. All youth have to do is choose how they want to reach out, and help will be there – 24/7, 365 days a year.
* For more information on Calgary ConnecTeen, or to get help, visit www.CalgaryConnecTeen.com.
* For a list of other crisis centres in Canada, please visit www.suicideprevention.ca.