Walk to help Kids Help Phone

A first of its kind study released in early April has been able to measure the effectiveness of the services offered by Kids Help Phone, and that has East End resident Alisa Simon feeling proud about her organization.

“It was very exciting, because we were actually able to show that our services are improving youth mental health,” said Simon, vice president of counselling services and programs at Kids Help Phone (KHP). Her department conducted the research for the study.

The study covered phone and online chat services, and found that 87 per cent of callers and 75 per cent of online chatters experienced a “meaningful reduction” in distress. The study also found increased confidence and clarity – planning for responding to or dealing with problems – after interaction with KHP services.

“We were able to basically show that Kids Help Phone counselling works,” said Simon.

However, the study also revealed some unexpected findings, including the amount of repeat callers.

“For years we thought that Kids Help Phone was just talking to kids one time, that they were coming to us once and that was it. But in fact we saw that a significant number of people come back to us over and over again. We’re often the first place that young people turn to for help … and we’re often the only place,” she said.

While the results show the service is working, Simon said the work at KHP is far from over.

“Every single young person in Toronto, and in Ontario and in Canada has problems large and small, whether they’re confused, or face profound anxiety, loneliness or fear or if they’re depressed,” she said.

To help spread the word and raise funds for KHP, the organization’s major fundraiser is set to take place on Sunday, May 5 at Woodbine Park. The Walk So Kids Can Talk happens in more than 30 communities across the country, but the Toronto event is by far the largest.

“The entire staff really pulls together,” said Simon. “It connects us with the thousands of Canadians around the country who unite together for the cause.

“To celebrate that and to support that cause is something that makes me incredibly proud.”

The day’s events get underway at 8 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and the walk starting at 10 a.m. For more information on how to take part or make a donation, visit walksokidscantalk.ca.

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