Everyone who works in post-secondary education – whether faculty, administration, staff, or partner organizations such as guard.me – shares a passion for helping students succeed. It’s why we do what we do. Every student should feel supported and included and have the same opportunity to reach their goals. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
For many students, feelings of stress, academic pressure, loneliness, depression, and anxiety prevent them from getting the most out of their educational experience. For international students grappling with these issues, the barriers to success are even greater. On top of everyday stressors, they are often dealing with isolation, language issues and cultural differences that prevent them from accessing help and support.
As parents, educators, administrators, and counsellors, we all have a role to play in helping students build the resilience they need to meet and overcome these everyday challenges. However, resilience alone is not enough. All students, from every background and every culture, deserve access to the tools, supports and services they need to help them succeed. That’s where keep.meSAFE comes in.
A ground-breaking mental wellness support program for students, keep.meSAFE provides 24/7 digital access to confidential counselling and support. Linguistic and cultural matching allows students to receive help, in their first language, from a counsellor who understands their specific cultural beliefs and any associated cultural or personal stigmas surrounding mental health.
“We need to meet students where they are, and in today’s world that means reaching them with technology,” says Christine Wach, Director of Strategic Partnerships with keep.meSAFE. “These students are digital natives. They are used to having information at their fingertips, when and where they want it. Most educational institutions are very proactive and have dedicated significant resources to healthcare and mental wellness student support programs. However, traditional delivery methods for these services may not be enough, particularly where international students are concerned.”
“keep.meSAFE doesn’t replace traditional support services on campus; it enhances them,” she continues. “We provide schools with an integrated, wrap-around system of care that is accessible to every student 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from their phones, computers or tablets. It’s where they are and how they prefer to communicate.”
Data from colleges and universities that offer keep.meSAFE indicate that 80% of students accessing support via chat have never visited the campus counselling centre, 52% have never sought support anywhere before and 70% of access is via chat. Close to 70% of the activity is occurring between 4:00 pm and 7:00 am. By offering 24/7/365 access that students can reach from their phones, which is confidential, and culturally-matched, schools are able to reach a segment of the student population that might otherwise have fallen through the cracks. They’re able to provide early intervention to all students, both domestic and international, before a mental health issue becomes a crisis.
“Though keep.meSAFE was initially created for international students, our staff and institutional partners quickly recognized that all student populations could benefit from the program,” says Wach. “We have such a diverse country, and many domestic students may identify with cultures than are not necessarily just covered by English speaking Canadians. We have clinicians that identify as, and can support LGBTQ2+ and indigenous students for example. Full campus implementation aligns well with our partners’ “equity, diversity, and inclusion” initiatives and the data shows strong engagement and results so far. With keep.meSAFE, schools are able to reach a more diverse group of students and provide them the tools and skills they need to build resilience and succeed. That’s our passion and our goal.”
Want to learn more about how keep.meSAFE and guard.me can help your students succeed? Visit our booth at the 2019 CICan Conference , May 5-7 in Niagara Falls, as we share best practices, get inspired, and envision together the future of colleges and institutes focused on success and inclusion. Visit our booth and join keep.meSAFE Director of Strategic Partnerships Christine Wach and Program Manager Jesse Poulin as they lead a panel discussion on the psycho-social struggles international students face, and the positive outcomes achieved by schools that have implemented an inclusive student support program.