Crisis Text Line partnership

January 10th, 2018 – Kids Help Phone – the only nationwide counselling and support service of its kind for youth in Canada – has formed a service partnership with U.S. based helpline and technology pioneer, Crisis Text Line, to provide young people in Canada with the first ever, 24/7, free nationwide texting service. This new service – Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone – will be tested in Manitoba in February 2018 and then, using learning from the service trial, rolled out to other provinces and territories later in the year.

Kids Help Phone research has uncovered that 42 percent of young people would rather write than speak about their problem and 71 percent said they would welcome a texting option. With more and more youth changing their preferred method of communication and in keeping with its vision to provide service in the way young people want it, Kids Help Phone is taking a leadership role in responding to this shift.

“We are very excited to enter into this service partnership with Crisis Text Line which will provide youth with greater access to support in a way that responds to their need for an immediate, non-verbal form of communication,” says Katherine Hay, Kids Help Phone’s President and CEO. “We are committed to ensuring young people from coast-to-coast are able to get the help they need, when they need it most and in a manner that suits them best.”

“Kids Help Phone’s track record as a leader in the mental health space is a prime example of the partnerships we would like to establish globally,” says Nancy Lublin, CEO and Founder of Crisis Text Line. “Together we are bringing crisis support to Canadian pockets.”

Crisis Text Line introduced a soft launch of their crisis texting service through word-of-mouth in two U.S. cities in August 2013.  The demand was swift with 75 percent of Crisis Text Line’s volume coming from young people under the age of 25, proving that such a platform was indeed relevant and needed by people in crisis. In four months, Crisis Text Line received messages from every U.S. area code. Since then it has processed over 58 million crisis messages.

A small group of leadership donors to Kids Help Phone is underwriting the majority of the costs to develop the new service through implementation of a five-month trial in Manitoba including: Bell Let’s Talk, BMO Financial Group, Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects, Great-West Life, RBC Foundation, The Co-operators Group Limited, Shail Silver and an anonymous donor.

“There is a critical need for an on-demand crisis support texting service and we are grateful to the vision and leadership of our founding donors in making this service available for young people in need,” says Charles Brown, President, The Source and Kids Help Phone Board Chair. “Their commitment to improving the mental health and well-being of youth of all ages and in all parts of Canada is to be commended.”

Youth support will be provided by remote volunteer Crisis Responders who will answer texts from young people reaching out for help. Crisis Responders must be the age of majority in their resident province or older, complete and pass a rigorous online 36-hour training program, clear strict security screening, and commit to volunteering a minimum of four hours a week for at least one year.

“In preparation for the pilot in Manitoba and the later national rollout, we encourage all those who wish to connect directly to the cause of youth mental health and well-being to consider volunteering as a Crisis Responder,” says Hay. “The Crisis Responder will play a critical role in taking young people through a five-stage structured conversation designed to bring each texter from a ‘hot’ moment to a cool calm.”

How Will the Texting Service Work?

Kids Help Phone is partnering with Crisis Text Line and using their established technology platform and service model in Canada. The service, when launched, will be accessible by youth through a free, easy to remember short-code. Youth will reach the service using any text/SMS-enabled device and will not require a data plan or internet connection, which is especially important for youth in remote or isolated communities where such services are limited.

The texts will be directed to Crisis Text Line’s online platform in Canada where Kids Help Phone’s volunteer Crisis Responders will be able to read and respond to the messages. Kids Help Phone professional supervisors will be available to provide in-the-moment coaching to the volunteers and to take over an escalated situation should an active rescue be required. All conversations between the texter and responder are confidential.

Why Introduce a Texting Support Service?

Technology is rapidly changing the way young people communicate. Texting is becoming increasingly popular. Kids Help Phone’s service data has revealed that young people who reach out using its non-verbal platforms such as Live Chat are more likely to bring up serious, high-risk mental health concerns than those who seek counselling through its phone line service. The free, 24/7 volunteer-based texting service will provide youth everywhere across Canada greater access to confidential crisis resolution thus reducing barriers for young people living in rural, remote, and under-served communities.

Call for Crisis Responder Volunteers underway for launch of service in 2018

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer Crisis Responder, please visit our volunteer recruitment page.

Support the delivery of our texting service 

With your help, every young person in Canada will access they support they need in the way they need it most.  Donate today.
Crisis Text Line logo

Kids Help Phone is a national charity known for its expertise and continuous innovation as Canada’s only 24/7 professional counselling, referral and information service for young people. Since 1989, Kids Help Phone has offered kids, teens, and young adults a critical lifeline of hope and support through our free, anonymous services, which research shows significantly improves youth mental health.  Young people reach out to Kids Help Phone’s counsellors from every corner of the country via phone, Live Chat and the soon-to-be offered 24/7 texting service in addition to having access to Kids Help Phone’s database of local youth-serving programs.


Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 support for people in crisis via text.

Media Contact:

Norma Meneguzzi Spall / The Results Group Public Relations

O: 416-686-9110 / M: 416-209-1216