Posted on September 8, 2020 by Myriam Brel
A new school year can be exciting — and stressful. Academic anxieties, bullying, romances and peer pressure add up to considerable weight on young shoulders. Heading back to the classroom during a pandemic only heightens that stress, for kids and parents alike.
It’s a situation for which Tel-jeunes/LigneParents have been preparing. For over 30 years, Tel-jeunes/LigneParents have provided Québec’s families with free, confidential mental health support. Young people and parents can connect through phone, email, text and chat for full French-language service. Professional counsellors are available to listen without judgement, answer questions and suggest additional resources as needed.
Since its inception, Tel-jeunes has helped 1,800,000 young people, while 500,000 parents have reached out to LigneParents. As the pandemic continues and the school year begins, those numbers are only growing.
COVID-19 has brought exceptional new challenges to young people and parents across Canada. Isolation, disrupted routines and anxiety over the virus itself all contribute to rising levels of stress. Since the pandemic began, Tel-jeunes has seen its volume increase 30 per cent.
How are people getting in touch? While 86 per cent of parents contact LigneParents through the telephone, only 23 per cent of youth choose that channel. Instead, they prefer talking through typing. 68 per cent of young people reach out to Tel-jeunes through text and online chat. For many, screens provide a sense of anonymity that helps them share their feelings more freely. They also offer privacy; youth can text without worrying about being overheard. While text conversations tend to last longer, they’re often franker.
Innovation has helped Tel-jeunes keep its digital doors open during the pandemic. Like millions of Canadians, Tel-jeunes’ counsellors are working from home. However, a new cloud-based multichannel platform has let counsellors continue uninterrupted. By migrating their operations to this remote platform, Tel-jeunes and LigneParents have been able to provide the same level of service — right as those services are needed more than ever.
But for all the digital advances, it’s important to remember that there is a human on either side of the screen. While Tel-jeunes carries out its services with the help of technology, it rests on the human touch.
Physical distancing means staying apart, but kids and parents won’t be facing a new school year alone. Access to mental health supports can make stresses easier to manage — on the first day of school, and all through the year.
To learn more about Tel-jeunes/LigneParents, and other organizations making a difference in Canadian digital health, tune in to the Digital Health InfoCast. Don’t forget to subscribe to get new episodes as soon as they’re available.
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Myriam Brel is the Director for Quebec Account Management and Clinical Adoption at Canada Health Infoway. Her career of 30+ years has seen key transformational digital initiatives across different industries. Over the last decade, she has applied her initial engineering and performance improvement background to the health sector, contributing to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health solutions.