Kids Help Phone is an e-mental health service offering free and confidential support to youth. We spoke with Jenny Yuen, Vice-President, to find out more about them.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7 e-mental health service offering free, confidential support in English and French to young people. As the country’s virtual care expert, we give millions of youth a safe, trusted space to talk over the phone or through text or in self-directed support in any moment of crisis or need. Through our digital transformation, we envision a future where every person in Canada is able to get the support they need when they need it most, however they need it. Kids Help Phone gratefully relies on the generosity of donors, volunteers, stakeholder partners, corporate partners and governments to fuel and fund our programs.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Kids Help Phone wants all young people and caring adults to know there is support for a young person, 24/7, no issue too big, no issue too small – even at 2 a.m. We want to maximize access to support for youth through technology and ensure that young people see themselves in our services and supports – they are built with young people for young people.
Kids Help Phone wants young people to know it’s okay, to not be okay! We have frontline staff who will support you, at the moment you need it.
In addition to immediate support, we have several resources and tools on our website to support any issue a young person or caring adults requires.
When did you start/join it?
I joined the Kids Help Phone family 17 years ago. It’s been an incredible journey, knowing we are making a difference in the lives of so many young people every single day, one connection at a time.
What made you want to get involved?
Youth mental health has always been important to me. Five years into my role, I became a mom for the first time and the importance of Kids Help Phone changed again for me. Knowing that if kids aren’t comfortable speaking to me, there is someone out there that I trust, that they can speak to. That’s my mission-driven focus and it’s why I’m still here today.
What was the situation like when you started?
We were definitely a smaller organization in size and scope – making an impact in communities across Canada every day through the phone conversations our professional counsellors were having. We were all in a physical building, counselling centres based in Toronto and Montreal, with community-based offices. We have core supporters and partners who remain with us today.
How has it changed since?
We were leaders then and we remain leaders now. We are still accessible 24/7 for young people growing up in a much faster-paced and complex environment. We are an innovation charity with a focus on youth mental health and well-being. What started as a phone counselling service has grown into an e-mental health service offering free, confidential support in English and French to young people. Youth can reach out for support via phone, text, live chat or through our peer-to-peer community service. At Kids Help Phone, we are constantly evolving to meet young people on the platforms they prefer.
We have clinical team members spread across the country, from our counsellors to our crisis response texting supervisors.
What more needs to be done?
We need to continue to innovate. We often say at Kids Help Phone: technology is changing fast, and young people are changing faster. We need to stay ahead of the curve and understand where we need to pivot in order to meet young people on the platforms they prefer. Kids Help Phone gratefully relies on the generosity of donors and partners. If you’re interested in supporting, visit kidshelpphone.ca.
Canada is so diverse. We need to continue to build services and supports alongside communities that have limited to no access to services established for them, rooted in their lived experience (Indigenous, Black and afro-diaspora, LGTBQ2S+, rural and remote).
We are grateful to partners and donors who are supporting these strategies – Slaight Family Foundation, Tangerine Bank, Sun Life Financial and Hyundai.
How can our readers help?
Tell your readers to learn more about Kids Help Phone – visit our website, understand our resources, and share with young people and caring adults in your life. Share with your readers that we are here, no one needs to feel alone and anyone can reach out 24/7.
Do you have any events coming up?
Yes! We have our national fundraising event on the first Sunday in May – this year, we are making some changes, with more to come in the New Year! Check our website in January for further details on how you can get involved.
In addition to our national fundraising event, Hyundai Canada has announced they will donate a half-million dollars to Kids Help Phone over the next two years as part of their ongoing commitment to help drive the betterment of Canadian youth forward. The funding will go toward a number of our programs specifically dedicated to supporting Indigenous and Black youth. By 2023, Hyundai Canada’s donation will help fund initiatives such as Finding Hope: Kids Help Phone’s Indigenous Youth Action Plan and RiseUp powered by Kids Help Phone. We thank donors such as Hyundai for their commitment to invest in initiatives that create an impact for youth across the country.
For more information regarding Hyundai’s commitment to Kids Help Phone, please see here.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric care – very near and dear to my heart. They are a global leader in providing culturally appropriate long-term care to seniors. There have been a plethora of news stories about the state of long-term care across Canada during the pandemic. Yee Hong remains a leader and sets a high standard for all so that seniors can continue to live their best life in their golden years.