New Mental Health Support Programs for K-12 and Post-Secondary Students

The government of British Columbia has announced the latest of several new or expanded mental health support programs to support students.

On April 16, 2020, the government announced a program called Here2Talk, which provides post-secondary students with free, confidential, single-session services by app, phone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The program had been in development for the past several months, but the province expedited its launch due to the increased stress COVID-19 has placed on students. The provincial government will be contributing $1.5 million annually to the program, which will be administered by Morneau Shepell.

On April 17, 2020, the government announced two programs to support K-12 students.  The WE Well-Being program provides free, virtual learning tools aimed at students experiencing anxiety and social isolation.  The program places special emphasis on social-emotional learning and resiliency.  It was first piloted in 2008, and is now available to all grades K-12, in English and French.

The new EASE (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) at home program provides parents and caregivers activities that focus on strategies for creating calming routines, speaking about difficult emotions, and managing anxiety. Kits have been developed for grades K-3 and 4-7, and will help to provide support to those students experiencing anxiety or stress as a result of social isolation/distancing and recent COVID-19 related changes to student life.

These recently announced programs are part of the larger package of mental health supports first announced by the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions on April 9, 2020 as part of the province’s COVID-19 response. In addition to specialized mental health supports for seniors, youth, victims of domestic violence and front-line health care workers, the Ministry announced increased support and access to the following programs which are available to everyone:

  • BounceBack (expanded access to free online, video and phone-based coaching and skills-building program).
  • Virtual counselling services (expanded access to virtual community counselling).
  • Peer support and system navigation (expanded access to virtual mentoring and supports).
  • Living Life to the Full (free, virtual peer support and practical skills courses for coping with stress, problem solving and boosting mood).
  • C. COVID-19 mental health self-assessment tool (online mental health screening self-tests). Available April 20.

To learn more about the programs listed above, click here to visit CMHA BC’s COVID-19 web page.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

Note to our Readers: Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. We are working to bring you up-to-date articles as the legal issues develop and to keep our previous posts updated. Given that the legal issues related to COVID-19 are constantly changing, if you are looking for legal advice or are dealing with an issue in relation to COVID-19, please contact your Harris lawyer or a member of our COVID-19 response team: Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

To read our most recent articles and other updates on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.