Kids Help Phone bolsters its commitment to support African, Caribbean and Black youth in Canada with action plan

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The 2023-2026 RiseUp action plan will continue addressing equity gaps in e-mental health care for Black Youth from coast to coast to coast

Acting on its commitment to help equity-deserving communities thrive, Kids Help Phone (KHP) is launching RiseUp: Kids Help Phone’s Action Plan for Supporting Black Youth. KHP will build on the tailored services and programs to support African, Caribbean and Black youth across Canada with a plan that expands e-mental health services to be more equitable, accessible and culturally informed. The RiseUp action plan has five ambitious goals and 29 actions that will guide support for Black communities in Canada.

Anti-Black racism and systemic racism create significant barriers when Black youth seek mental health support. Understanding that e-mental health services for Black youth must be community-informed and community-led, RiseUp was informed by Black youth and community leaders. Kids Help Phone engaged with more than 200 African, Caribbean and Black youth to find out more about barriers they face when accessing support to mental health care.

Following the engagement sessions, Kids Help Phone developed the KHP Black Advisory Council – a group of community leaders with a shared commitment to Black excellence and joy – to provide strategic direction for the ongoing development of RiseUp. The KHP Black Youth Initiatives team implements the action plan.

Through this action plan KHP will innovate new and responsive ways of supporting Black youth with their mental health and wellness. This includes:

  • Expanding awareness of KHP services for Black youth and build trust in communities by developing deeper connections with community centres, schools, pediatric hospitals, shelters, sports organizations and Black content creators.
  • Adding 200 Black community resources into KHP’s Resources Around Me database – an interactive tool that helps young people find and connect with trusted community supports.
  • Increasing the number of African, Caribbean and Black employees at KHP to ensure its staff reflects the voices and experiences of young people from the Afro-diaspora.
  • Recruiting 100+ African, Caribbean and Black volunteers as crisis responders each year.
  • Developing volunteer and mentorship programs tailored for African, Caribbean and Black youth.

Kids Help Phone’s services can bridge the 24-7 gap to support African, Caribbean and Black young people with e-mental health support, particularly when there are barriers to other services. Through the RiseUp action plan, we’re expanding awareness and trust of our services so more Black youth know KHP is here for them. Black youth across Canada can access free wellness support 24/7 by texting RISE to 686868. Support from a professional counsellor via phone or Live Chat is also available.

RiseUp is funded through the remarkable generosity of the Government of Canada, The Slaight Family Foundation, Tangerine and Empire Company Limited.


  • Of all the young people who connect with us by text, 6% disclose they are Black, which is a higher percentage than the total Black population in Canada (4.3%).
  • KHP data shows that young people connecting with us about racism are some of the most distressed texters, second only to those experiencing harm in their home.
  • On average, 81 per cent of Black youth who connect with KHP say their conversation was helpful.


“At Kids Help Phone, we’re always striving to better understand barriers to mental health care that African, Caribbean and Black youth experience. Our work to offer services that are more relevant, equitable and accessible will never be done. We are fully committed to taking definitive actions – in partnership with communities and the KHP Black Advisory Council – that ensure Black youth across Canada are met with the e-mental health care they deserve to thrive in their worlds,” said Katherine Hay, President & CEO, Kids Help Phone.

“Long histories of injustice and colonization, compounded by tragic events, can take a toll on the mental health of young people from the Afro-diaspora. Through the implementation of the 2023-2026 RiseUp action plan, Kids Help Phone’s services can continue to bridge the gap to support Black youth with critical e-mental health services, particularly when other community-based services are not available,” said Barbara Ukwuegbu, Manager Black Youth Initiatives, a program supported by The Slaight Family Foundation at Kids Help Phone.

“Black people are disproportionately impacted by social factors that may lead to or exacerbate mental health challenges (e.g. housing affordability crisis, discrimination in education and employment, access to equitable healthcare, higher levels of policing and criminalization, etc.). The 2023-2026 RiseUp action plan outlines bold and audacious goals to reach Black youth and let them know they are intentionally and positively reflected in our services,” said Lianne Hannaway, CPA, Black Advisory Council Member and member, Board of Directors, Kids Help Phone.


“For decades, Kids Help Phone has been meeting Canadian youth where they’re at to provide accessible mental health support and services. That’s what today’s announcement is all about: providing Black youth across Canada with culturally focused care when they need it most. The federal government is proud to support Kids Help Phone and the RiseUp action plan to help build communities where Black youth feel safe and respected, knowing their mental health and wellness is prioritized,” said The Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health.

“We are proud to be a founding donor to RiseUp. We are confident the support from Kids Help Phone through this program is helping youth from equity-deserving communities to have access to the e-mental health care they need,” said Gary Slaight, President & CEO, The Slaight Family Foundation.

“At Tangerine, we work tirelessly to remove barriers for our Clients and, more broadly, for our community. Since 2020, we have partnered with Kids Help Phone to provide a safe space for Black youth. The RiseUp action plan is as ambitious as it is innovative, and we look forward to continuing to drive impact by addressing equity gaps and increasing accessibility for mental health care. It’s ultimately through partnerships like this one that we’ll build a better and more inclusive future,” said Gillian Riley, President and CEO, Tangerine.

“We are so proud to help create a safe space for Black youth,” said Michael Medline, President and CEO, Empire Company Limited. “Empire, through its Family of Support initiative, is committed to continued support of this important action plan that creates a solid foundation we can all get behind.  Providing support to Black youth in a manner that accepts and addresses the very real challenges they face is at the core of RiseUp and we are pleased to be associated with this meaningful endeavour.”

About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7 national, e-mental health service offering free, confidential, multi-lingual support to young people. As the country’s virtual care expert for 35 years, we give millions of youth a safe, trusted space to Feel Out Loud over the phone, through text, or in self-directed supports for any moment of crisis or need. The Feel Out Loud campaign is the largest movement for youth mental health in Canada’s history – it will raise $300 million to unlock hope for young people to thrive in their worlds. Kids Help Phone gratefully relies on the generosity of donors, volunteers, stakeholder partners, corporate partners and governments to fuel and fund our programs. Learn more at

For more information, please contact:

Akilah Downey
Kids Help Phone
Media Relations and Influencer Engagement Manager
[email protected] or 416-560-2932

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