Diana’s Story: How Crisis Responders are showing up for youth

Youth Voices and Human Impact

In 2018, when Kids Help Phone announced that it was launching Canada’s first-ever free, 24/7 nationwide youth mental health texting service in partnership with Crisis Text Line, Diana immediately took notice. Having personally experienced mental health challenges in her past and now passionate about supporting young people who are struggling, she was inspired by the potential of the new texting service to reach kids in need.

“Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone seemed like an innovative and exciting opportunity to become involved in,” says Diana.

While I’d heard of distress lines, I had yet to come across a texting-based crisis service. I was eager to become part of a new and dynamic mental health support service.

Diana quickly signed up to join the new service’s community of 1,800 volunteer Crisis Responders, who are scattered across the country and chat with youth from the comfort of home. As the only texting service of its kind available at any time of day or night and in every province and territory, the initiative has revolutionized youth mental healthcare in Canada.

Over the past two years, Diana has engaged in over 1,600 texting conversations with young people from all across Canada. She says the time commitment — anywhere from four to 12 hours per week depending on each volunteer’s availability — is easily manageable with her busy schedule. “The time commitment has been perfect regardless of what else is happening in my life,” she says. “I’ve been able to take on as many shifts as I’ve been available to, and since the platform is entirely online it’s extremely convenient to access.”

Connecting with anywhere from five to 20 young people per session, Diana says the top concerns she’s hearing about from youth relate to depression, anxiety and relationships. She worries about how the complex issues facing the world today — climate change, politics and the influence of social media, to name a few — are impacting the mental health of youth in Canada. But she’s also encouraged by the growing movement to reduce stigma around mental health and increase access to mental health support services.

“I can see how engaged and dedicated our youth are today in terms of acceptance of mental health struggles,” she says. “My hope is that this will help each child and adolescent build resilience and hope in the face of any future obstacles or struggles.”