Kids Help Phone launches "Always There", Canada's first mobile app connecting youth to live professional help and support

Hon. Laurel Broten, Ontario Minister of Education and Minister of Children and Youth Services, joins in on launch

TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2012 /CNW/ - Kids Help Phone today released the Always There mobile app -  a powerful tool for young people across Canada to more easily reach professional counsellors, access clinically-sound information and provide them with important features to support their social and emotional health.

The innovative mobile app was developed with the assistance of youth over the last year and with financial support from Bell Let's Talk, The Jack Project and other Kids Help Phone donors.

"It was important for us that the Always There app be developed in collaboration with youth," said Sharon Wood, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone. "Our clinical philosophy is to recognize kids' own strengths and input in finding solutions that are right for them. This app helps them connect with professional insights, but also helps them share some of their own answers and solutions with other kids. It sends a strong message that, no matter who or where you are, someone cares. You're never alone."

Passcode protected, the app encourages users to read up on emotional health and relationship topics, such as anxiety, depression, abuse in the family, and helping a friend. And it also offers direct links to direct phone or online links to Kids Help Phone professional counsellors.

"Kids' Help Phone is walking the talk with their new mobile app Always There. I certainly can see this as a tool which could be promoted by parents, educators and mental health service providers to help young people track their feelings and learn coping strategies," explains Dr. Ian Manion, Executive Director, Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. "By involving youth in meaningful ways throughout its development, they've created something very worthwhile, relevant and engaging. It's a good first step towards using technology to help young people monitor their own mental wellness and get help when and if they need it."

The Always There app is being released just in time for the holidays, when many young people may be feeling vulnerable. Reaching out for help can be difficult at any point in the year, but especially around the holidays when young people don't know how to cope with their own sadness, loneliness or anxieties and when the pressure to celebrate can be overwhelming.

The Honourable Laurel Broten, Ontario Minister of Education and Minister of Children and Youth Services, was on hand for the unveiling of the Always There app.  The event took place at Artscape's Ada Slaight Hall in downtown Toronto.

"It is very appropriate that the new app is called 'Always There' because Kids Help Phone has always been there for youth," confirms Minister Broten. "The new app represents the next step in the continuing commitment of Kids Help Phone to the well-being of young people, and provides youth with one more way to access their trusted service."

Being there through technology is an organizational priority for Kids Help Phone.

"By using the power of wireless - a technology young people are increasingly most comfortable with - the Always There app succeeds both in improving access to care and fighting the stigma that keeps so many people from getting the help and support they need to achieve their full potential," said Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative. "As a founding supporter of Kids Help Phone, Bell is proud to be a part of this creative and very relevant initiative."

"At The Jack Project, we know we can't transform the way we support kids today with yesterday's tools," explains Eric Windeler, Founder, Lead Volunteer, The Jack Project. "That's why we were thrilled to provide an early investment to help create this unique app for young people, not only to improve access to professional counselling services, but also to ensure young people participate and understand how to help themselves."

The first phase of the Always There app includes English versions available for iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. A French version and additional features will come in phase two, expected in early 2013.

About Kids Help Phone
Since 1989, Kids Help Phone has been Canada's leading online and phone counselling service for youth. It's free, it's anonymous and confidential, and it's available any time of the day or night, 365 days a year in English and in French. Professional counsellors support the mental health and well-being of young people, ages five to 20, by providing one-on-one counselling, information and resources. As a community-based national charity, Kids Help Phone receives no core government funding and relies on community and corporate support to fund its essential and vital service.

To learn more about Kids Help Phone, please visit www.kidshelpphone.ca

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"ALWAYS THERE" FACT SHEET

  • The free "Always There" app is available for download at the iTunes App Store, and Google Play Store, on Wednesday, December 19, 2012.

  • The app connects users to Kids Help Phone professional counsellors via phone or live chat at the touch of a button.

  • The app features indispensable content from Kids Help Phone's Info Booth; a library of clinically endorsed information on many of the important issues kids deal with today.

  • EXCLUSIVE MOBILE FEATURE: The Feelings Log allows users to practice identifying their feelings and helps them better understand possible reasons why they feel this way. By choosing one of 41 feelings icons, users can log their feelings as many times a day as they choose, and this information is recorded on a monthly calendar.

  • EXCLUSIVE MOBILE FEATURE: The Stress Buster enables users to scroll through inspirational quotes, self-care tips and jokes; more than 200 were submitted by users online.  Additionally, users can choose to add their own tips, which will then appear on their own devices, and they can choose to send these tips anonymously to Kids Help Phone where they will be vetted, and if appropriate, added to the app.

  • Inviting young people to make meaningful contributions to programs and policies that impact their own lives, Kids Help Phone prioritized youth engagement during the app development.  Part of this youth engagement involved working with mindyourmind based in London, Ontario who facilitated two workshops with young people - one at the beginning of the app development process where they developed ideas for the main features of the app, and one towards the end as they gave feedback on a working version of the app.

  • Kids Help Phone is leading the way with Canada's first app connecting youth to professional help and support. It is the newest way for kids and teens to stay connected to Canada's leading professional youth counselling, information and resource service.

  • Being there through technology is an organizational priority; the "Always There" app was made possible with financial assistance from Bell Let's Talk, The Jack Project and other Kids Help Phone donors.

  • "When you ensure the Always There mobile app is pre-loaded onto a mobile gift, you'll be giving more than a device - you'll be giving a young person in your life the gift of support that's always there." says Alisa Simon, VP Counselling Services and Programs, Kids Help Phone.

  • "Whether kids turn to their parents, or choose to talk to their friends, teachers, or other trusted individuals, asking for help is a sign of independence and strength, and it's an important part of learning to cope." says Maria Montanaro, professional counsellor, Kids Help Phone. "Now, with the Always There app, young people have another way they can find the help and support they need, whenever they need it."

  • Developed by SpeakFeel Corporation, the first phase of the app includes English versions available for iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. French version and additional features are scheduled for early 2013.

SOURCE Kids Help Phone



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