HALIFAX -- Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Kids Help Phone has seen a large increase in the number of young people reaching out for mental health support.

Now, Kids Help Phone wants to ensure all Nova Scotians can access immediate support. The organization has partnered with the Nova Scotia Government to make services available to all ages.

“We expanded to adults through the COVID-19 emergency action, it enabled us to put a new service out there,” says Katherine Hay, the president of Kids Help Phone.

“We are in a global crisis, it’s certainly a crisis in Canada. It makes sense that our volumes would go up, but what they have done is doubled, then doubled again. It’s very interesting that the top reasons people are reaching out… is anxiety and stress and also isolation.”

Kids Help Phone provides services by phone and by text.

“They will reach someone right away, within about five minutes. It’s a professional counsellor, who will go through a little counselling session. What they expect is someone to answer the phone and say ‘Hi, you’ve reached a counsellor. How can I help?’ That’s literally how it begins. By text, it’s exactly the same thing,” says Hay.

Hay says it is important for anyone who is struggling to reach out.

“We know you’ll feel better. We’re not going to take away your grief, but we will certainly help you,” says Hay.

A roster of Nova Scotia psychologists are also offering support through a free service called Psychological Support Session.

The service, which began Wednesday, allows those who are distressed about the tragic events that took place in Nova Scotia to talk about their mental wellness, ways of coping, and how the individual can access further care and support.

“This tragedy is something that has affected all Nova Scotians deeply, but it may affect each person differently,” says Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia minister of health and wellness.

“Help is available for people if they need it and there are many options when they are ready to make the call. I want to thank the psychologists who have stepped forward to help those who may be hurting.”

Anyone looking for help can call 902-422-9183 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday to arrange a support session with a psychologist.

The initial call will be brief and will start the process to connect the individual with a psychologist within 48 hours.

When calling, people should indicate they have been impacted by the tragedy.

Psychologists will offer their expertise, free of charge, through online video conference or by telephone, due to COVID19 restrictions.

"Psychologists often help people with trauma and distress and we maintain a roster of psychologists who have volunteered to help following any disaster in Nova Scotia,” says Dr. Victor Day, the disaster response coordinator for The Association of Psychologists of NS.

“The tragic events on April 18 and 19 have affected a large number of people psychologically. We want to add to the good initiatives of the NSHA in helping people.”

The Psychological Support Session service is in collaboration with programs and services available through Nova Scotia Health Authority's Mental Health and Addictions Program.

“We are grateful to APNS and its members for offering their support to Nova Scotians in the wake of this tragedy. At NSHA, we welcome the opportunity to join with them to provide individuals with many options for support. We want to reassure Nova Scotians we are all here to help,” says Sam Hodder, senior director of Nova Scotia Health Authority’s mental health and addictions program.

If you, or someone you know, have mental health or addiction-related concerns do not hesitate to reach out.

The Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line is available 24/7 for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or someone concerned about them. Call 1-888-429-8167.

First responders impacted by the tragedy, and their families, can call First Responders Assist at 1-888-429-8167.

Access to supports are also available through NSHA’s online mental health services.

Kids Help Phone