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Being there for young people and our staff through COVID-19

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TORONTO, ON (November 11, 2020) — For over 30 years, Kids Help Phone has been the only bilingual national 24/7 e-mental health service for young people across Canada; no problem is too small and no problem is too large. When COVID-19 brought Canada to a standstill in March, Canada turned to Kids Help Phone with increasing need. Kids Help Phone has been there every single hour of every single day, as we always have. And we know that the courage and strength of our frontline people are saving lives every single day.

When COVID-19 struck, Kids Help Phone had three simple drivers to weather the storm, a storm that still rages, and they remain sound: keep our people safe and whole; keep our service 24/7 uninterrupted in both French and English in every single province and territory; and, ensure we had financial stability. We are proud as an organization to deliver on all three.

We at Kids Help Phone know that being on the frontline of the mental health crisis, the first line in many cases, is a very hard job on any given day — during COVID-19, it is harder. Knowing that, the well-being of our staff is our first priority.

“At Kids Help Phone, our counsellors are on the frontline of mental health in Canada, they are our frontline heroes. They support the mental health of young people every single hour of every single day, and during COVID-19 it has been relentless. We stand alongside and behind all of our counsellors, just as they stand alongside every young person who needs them. Our counsellors are courageous, kind and top professionals. We work with our counsellors and actively hear their feedback; we support and trust them. We strive to put our counsellors’ well-being first and when they tell us there are barriers to their well-being, it is our job to listen. If we miss something, we will make it right; including changing guidelines to better meet their needs. We are all in uncharted territory in the midst of COVID-19 with a great deal of uncertainty. The one thing that is certain is that Kids Help Phone will be there for the youth of Canada 24/7 in French and English in every province and territory. We are grateful to the Kids Help Phone counsellors.” — Alisa Simon, Senior Vice President, Service Innovation, Kids Help Phone

We have added additional supports for our frontline staff over the past eight months, and will continue to add more: Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, mindfulness programs, one-time financial supports, additional days off over the summer, and added time to decompress and debrief. We host regular town halls, have added virtual coffee breaks and casual virtual coffees with the CEO. We have checked in and conducted pulse surveys to hear how people are doing, and actioned what we heard. We will continue to work with our staff in this way.

With the unprecedented increase in volumes, which we do not anticipate to ease, we have hired additional counselling staff at unprecedented levels. More than 20 since COVID-19 began, with an additional 17 being onboarded now and another cohort of 14 by the end of November. Canada is in uncharted territory, the impact of COVID-19 will be felt long after the virus ends, and Kids Help Phone will continue to be there.

Our Kids Help Phone team are the most passionate, caring and professional people in the industry, doing important work every single day. Kids Help Phone is a trusted and loved beacon of hope in Canada, and that is because of the courage and the strength of our staff. Kids Help Phone is proud to serve the 8.2M youth across Canada, their families and their communities.

For any media inquiries, please contact:

Lindsey Coulter, Associate Vice President, Strategic Communications, [email protected], 647-390-4841

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