Kids Help Phone 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.”