Red River College launches online mental health platform for students

Posted on August 28th, 2017

Red River

“Are you OK?”

Sitting in class one day last year, Abbigail Guse said she couldn’t admit to her instructor that she wasn’t OK — she was juggling college, work, relationships and struggling with anxiety and depression.

“I felt like I couldn’t say, “I’m not sick, but I’m considering throwing myself in front of a bus today.”

She felt alone and once attempted suicide that year.

About 1,300 Red River College (RRC) students accessed counselling and accessibility services last year, with over 200 struggling with suicidal thoughts.

With Guse as an example, it’s possible there were more students suffering in silence.

But when RRC students resume classes in a few weeks, they’ll have a resource that Guse didn’t, and it’s one that mental health co-ordinator Breanna Sawatzky hopes caters to the digital generation.

Red River Relief Line is a 24/7 online platform for students to talk about mental health issues anonymously with trained peer listeners.

Despite being known as the “oversharing” generation, students today often hide their symptoms of mental illness, said Sawatzky, adding “there’s still a lot of really negative attitudes toward mental health problems, where they’re seen as an internal character weakness of a person.”

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