A new confidential, customized crisis texting service was launched today for kids of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members. This texting service will provide free mental health and wellbeing bilingual support to the children and youth of the 78,000 CAF members.
This service is provided through a collaboration among Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS), True Patriot Love Foundation, and Kids Help Phone.
“Making sure that young people have a means to connect and be supported through hardships is critical, especially in these difficult times,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence. “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 someone to talk about it.”
The 24/7 texting service can be accessed by texting CAFKIDS at 686868 for service in English or JEUNESFAC at 686868 for support in French.
Kids Help Phone is the only 24/7 national service in Canada that provides professional counselling, information, referrals, and volunteer-led text-based support for young people. Their Crisis Responders have received enhanced training to better understand the complexities of military family lifestyle. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kids whose parents or guardians are deployed during this time may be under undue stress and in urgent need of support.
“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,” said Katherine Hay, President and CEO, Kids Help Phone.
The defence community recognizes April as the Month of the Military Child. This new service is fitting support for military children who are making sacrifices by battling difficulties of separation from family and other loved ones during deployment and frequent relocation. It will also help the 8,000 plus families of retiring Canadian Armed Forces members each year who are struggling with moving to a new community.
“When CAF families do well, so do CAF members. This service is one more way that we can support families who contribute so much,” said Sean N. Cantelon, CEO, Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services.
For more information, visit www.CAFconnection.ca/CAFKIDS.