Good2Talk in the North/Allo J’écoute dans le nord

A week in review from Good2Talk Partnership Coordinator, Fiona O’Connor

Last week, Good2Talk hit the road for a series of campus visits in northern Ontario. Over the course of three action-packed days, my colleague Justin Hanna and I had the pleasure of meeting with staff and students at seven post-secondary institutions in three cities: Laurentian University and Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Nipissing University and Canadore College in North Bay, and Northern College and Université de Hearst in Timmins.

The purpose of our trip – one of several mini “road trips” our team has taken since the helpline officially launched last October – was to present Good2Talk and speak with those working on the front lines of student life (staff from health and counselling, student services, residence life, academic advising, accessibility services and student associations) about how the helpline can be a resource for them.  The Good2Talk team would like to say a big thank you to our campus contacts who ensured a great turnout for the sessions!

We heard from many campus service providers that they see Good2Talk as a valuable resource which, as a 24/7, in-the-moment support, serves to complement some of the existing mental health services available to their students. To this end, Q&As held at the end of each information session highlighted some of the unique challenges Northern student populations can face in accessing timely and nearby mental health services.

Accordingly, staff posed some great questions about how Good2Talk’s counsellors and Information and Referral Specialists manage this reality, generating further discussion about how Good2Talk’s province-wide service works. Several of our info sessions, held in both English and French, were videocast to satellite campuses, which enabled us to hear from staff in a wide range of locations. Collège Boréal, for example, maintains nine campuses stretching from London to Kapuskasing, while Northern College’s network includes campuses in Timmins, Haileybury, Moosonnee and Kirkland Lake.

Learning more about student needs and service delivery across some of Northern Ontario’s post-secondary institutions  ̶ and seeing how each school engages their distinct communities in mental health awareness and promotion on campus – was an invaluable part  of our experience. This trip highlighted some of the demographic differences in student populations in different parts of the province, reflected, for example, in the unique Aboriginal programming at Northern College or the rich Francophone student life at the various campuses of Université de Hearst.

However, discussions with both students and staff members also captured the many similarities that exist in terms of the mental health needs of post-secondary students across the province. Good2Talk looks forward to continuing its outreach to Ontario post-secondary communities to increase awareness of the helpline as we move into our second year of service. We invite anyone with a question, comment or feedback about Good2Talk/ Allo J’écoute to contact us at info@good2talk.ca or info@allojecoute.ca.