‘Our Kids Are Talking And That’s What We Want’

WES for Youth Online (Logo courtesy of http://www.wesforyouthonline.ca)

A Walkerton-based resource could be a game-changer for area youth struggling with mental health issues.

Wes for Youth Online, which provides free wellness and emotional support to youth online, is working to further promote its service after recognizing a significant need locally.

Executive Director Jenn Mulcaster says 53% of their users are coming from Sarnia-Lambton.

“Which is fabulous,” Mulcaster told Sarnia council Monday. “Everyone thinks of it as a double-edged sword. I think of it as our kids are talking and that’s what we want.”

She says the difference between their professional counselling service and Kids Help Phone is that youth can develop an ongoing relationship with their counsellor.

“Kids Help Phone, they call, they talk to whomever’s available. They log on online, they talk to whomever’s available. When you register with WES for Youth, you are assigned one counsellor.”

She says providing ongoing counselling online is much more effective because many young people are afraid of face-to-face counselling services.

“All of our young people are not coming to us and talking to us about suicide or self-harm,” Mulcaster says. “Our young people are coming to us and talking to us about a variety of issues that are going on. The number one reason is relationships. They struggle with relationships and as you can imagine this [motions to cell phone] has become our way of communicating with everybody.”

The online hub was founded in 2012 by Yolanda and Jamie Cameron after their 16-year-old son Wes committed suicide.

For more information, or to access the online counselling, go to www.wesforyouthonline.ca.

Youth in need of crisis counselling are asked to call the Mental Health Crisis Line at 1-877-470-5200, Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or 911.