A new crisis texting service for military children and youth was announced today.
Powered by Kid Help Phone, the new confidential bilingual service is available 24hours a day, seven days a week to 78,000 children and youth of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members.
“For more than 30 years, Kids Help Phone has been supporting youth across Canada. Now, in partnership with Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services’ Military Family Services and True Patriot Love Foundation, youth in military families will have direct access to 24/7 texting support through the Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone. This partnership is critical as families are forced into self-isolation and many are left unable to access mental health support. We are truly grateful for this partnership during a critical time,” Katherine Hay, President and CEO, Kids Help Phone.
When CAF families do well, so do CAF members. This service is one more way that we can support families who contribute so much,” Sean N. Cantelon, CEO, Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services
Made available through a partnership between CFMWS (Military Family Services), Kids Help Phone, and True Patriot Love Foundation, the services ensure all kids from military families have access to free, confidential, mental health and wellbeing support in both English and French.
True Patriot Love CEO Nick Booth noted, “True Patriot Love Foundation remains deeply committed to supporting the military and veteran community, particularly as those with pre-existing challenges may be facing additional difficulties amid the global pandemic. We are proud to partner with Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services’ Military Family Services and Kids Help Phone to offer this critical service for youth from military families. Now, more than ever, this community needs our support. We are honoured to stand strong for them just as they stand strong for Canada every day.”
The press release noted that the Kids Help Phone verified staff and volunteer Crisis Responders have enhanced training and screening to better understand the complexities of military family lifestyle.
- Leaving good friends behind;
- Changing schools;
- Moving to a new home; and
- Separation when their parents are deployed.
Now, more than ever, having the means to stay connected and get support is critical because of the COVID-19 pandemic as it can worsen existing difficulties and may add significantly to the stress to kids, during a parent’s or guardian’s deployment.
“I would like to thank our Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services, True Patriot Love Foundation and Kids Help Phone for introducing this new, free service for children that serve alongside their parents. Making sure that young people have a means to connect and be supported through hardships is critical, especially in these difficult times. I want every teen and kid to know if they reach out for help, someone will answer. Being part of a military family can be tough – it’s okay to want to reach to someone to talk about it,” commented Harjit S. Sajjan, minister of national defence.
Because children from military families can face unique challenges related to their parent’s or guardian’s service, including frequent geographic relocation and regular separation from family and other loved ones, the text line is designed to be a tool to help them.
- Feeling depressed;
- Self-harm / Suicide;
- Isolation; and Grief.
The service is also available to the 8,000-10,000 transitioning families, who leave the Canadian Armed Forces each year and who may be struggling with moving to a new community.
“The launch of this new dedicated Crisis Text Line for youth is a testament of CFMWS’ commitment to support the Canadian Armed Forces operational effectiveness. When CAF families do well, so do CAF members. This service is one more way that we can support families who contribute so much,” stated Sean N. Cantelon, CEO, Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services in a press release.
Military children with cell phones can access the service by texting the keyword CAFKIDS at 686868 for service in English or the keyword JEUNESFAC at 686868 for support in French.
The press release noted April is celebrated as the Month of the Military Child by the defence community; recognizing the sacrifices these children make is important.
Thanks, in part, to the support and contribution of military children, their parents and guardians can continue to safeguard and protect Canadians.
For more information, visit CAF Connection website here.