Breaking down barriers to student mental health with keep.meSAFE

At keep.meSAFE, helping students succeed is more than just our job. It’s both our mission and a passion for every one of our employees and partner schools. For many students, the barriers to success can feel overwhelming. Homesickness, stress, isolation, loneliness, and academic pressure can become a significant burden, and even more so for students adapting to a new culture as well. Educational institutions have increasingly dedicated resources to support services and student mental health initiatives, but demand continues to outpace capacity.

That’s where we come in. Our team of mental health experts and experienced educators works hand-in-hand with our partner schools to provide the tools and training schools need to offer their students.  Through our ground-breaking mental wellness student support program, each student receives the support they need – when they need it.  keep.meSAFE is the industry’s first digital mental health support program, and was designed specifically to address the unique mental health challenges international students may face.

“We all experience issues such as anxiety, depression or feeling isolated at some point,” says Christina Furtado, Account Manager with keep.meSAFE. “In our North American culture, we are perhaps more accustomed to talking about these feelings openly, but the same isn’t necessarily true for international students. Their cultural upbringing may limit their ability to share or even express the difficulties they are facing at school, be they personal, family or academic challenges.”

By offering linguistic and culturally matched services, the program provides students with direct, 24/7 digital access to a counsellor from their own culture.  Students feel more comfortable accessing help privately through their phone, tablet, or computer, and speaking with someone in their own language who understands their cultural belief system around mental health and its various facets.

Not only is keep.meSAFE breaking down barriers that may prevent some students from seeking the help they need, the program helps schools overcome the barriers that prevent them from effectively delivering support services to students.

“As a society, we are now very technologically driven,” says Furtado. “We need to communicate with students the way they want, when they want. That means communicating digitally. By offering telephone counselling, video chat counselling, and even text counselling, keep.meSAFE meets students where they are, providing them access to help in the ways that feel most comfortable. Picture a student studying in the library and feeling overwhelmed.  With keep.meSAFE, they don’t need to wait for help, miss class for an appointment, or show up in person at the health centre or counselling office. They can sit in the library and have an immediate private conversation through chat with one of our counsellors to help alleviate that stress before it reaches a crisis level.”

“Every school wants its students to succeed, and when students are struggling, they aren’t thriving,” continues Furtado.  “Our data shows that the keep.meSAFE program encourages students to seek help earlier and remain in a counselling program longer than traditional delivery methods of mental health services, resulting in better outcomes.  The other key ingredient to our success is how closely we work with school administrators and staff. They care about their students. Their job is to educate and provide the guidance and support students need to become independent adults in the real world. With keep.meSAFE, they can take a step back and say, ‘We have a real need here, and we have a program to fulfill that need.’  Being part of that is just amazing.”

Want to learn more? Visit the keep.meSAFE and booth at the CAPS-I annual conference and AGM, April 28-30th 2019 in Winnipeg.  Catch Christina Furtado and keep.meSAFE Program Manager Jesse Poulin as they lead their conference presentation titled Meeting Students Where They Are – Breaking Down Barriers

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