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HomeHealthYounger Calgarians lend listening ear to teenagers in misery

Younger Calgarians lend listening ear to teenagers in misery

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That is Half 5 of a five-part sequence wanting on the state of youth psychological well being in Calgary.


Calgary youngsters share their each day struggles and darkest ideas with the younger volunteers on the Misery Centre’s teen hotline, ConnecTeen. In return, these volunteers supply an empathetic ear and hope for the long run.

  • WATCH | How teenagers are serving to teenagers on the Misery Centre within the video above

“You actually simply have to satisfy that particular person the place they’re and actually help them by no matter it’s they are going by,” mentioned volunteer Fiza Rajput.

The free confidential service is on the market 24 hours a day. About 40 volunteers, ranging in age from 15 to 22, reply through the afternoon and night hours. Grownup volunteers from the Misery Centre cowl the remainder of the day. 

Textual content, name or chat

Not surprisingly, most teenagers contact the hotline by textual content or on-line chat. They are much much less more likely to choose up the cellphone and name. In the event that they do name, a translation service is on the market in additional than 200 languages; nonetheless, that service shouldn’t be obtainable for texts or chats.

  • Wish to study extra about this undertaking? On Tuesday, Jan. 11, CBC Calgary reporter Lucie Edwardson will reply your questions stay about her five-part sequence Children in Disaster. You’ll be able to submit any questions you’ve got right here or remark under.

Andrea Leon, 21, signed up with ConnecTeen after she heard a presentation at school. She began volunteering at 16, hoping to discover ways to assist her pals.

“I used to have a whole lot of pals at all times come to me for recommendation,” she mentioned. “I by no means felt like I may actually give them that a lot recommendation as a result of I wasn’t actually conscious of easy methods to deal with it”.

ConnecTeen is a free confidential service in Calgary that’s obtainable 24 hours a day by way of textual content, name or on-line chat. (Colin Corridor/CBC)

Rajput, now 20, began volunteering with ConnecTeen when she was 17. One among her pals was already concerned and he or she was impressed.

“I used to be like, ‘wow, that appears actually good, and that appears sort of cool.’Such as you’re in a position to actually assist individuals in life-and-death conditions.”

‘Nobody cares, however I really feel such as you do’

The conversations do typically start in darkish locations. Teenagers will speak about anxiousness, melancholy and suicide. Rajput and Leon each welcome an opportunity to make a distinction in these moments.

“Typically they will say, ‘nobody cares, however I really feel such as you do,'” mentioned Leon, which she mentioned could be very fulfilling.

“I’ve been on so many chats the place on the very finish of the chat … they will be like, ‘hey, you understand what? Thanks a lot. You genuinely saved my life’ or ‘actually stored me secure throughout this dialog,'” mentioned Rajput. “I truthfully really feel these cases … you are feeling like, ‘wow, I made a distinction on this particular person’s life.'”

If volunteers decide somebody is liable to suicide, they work with that particular person to provide you with a plan to remain secure.

Andrea Leon, 21, says she signed as much as be a ConnecTeen volunteer after they visited her college. (Colin Corridor/CBC)

The volunteers do not work alone. A employees member from the Misery Centre oversees every shift. That supervisor can see and listen to all of their conversations in actual time and intervene and get assist if wanted. 

Volunteers mentored

Ashley De Vera Macayan, program co-ordinator for ConnecTeen, started as a teenage volunteer. She acknowledges it may be arduous as a volunteer to not fear in regards to the teenagers who get in contact.

De Vera Macayan mentioned employees debrief volunteers after robust shifts or conversations.

“So they do not must take it dwelling with them,” she mentioned.

The younger volunteers are additionally every assigned a mentor to speak with about their emotions.

Nonetheless, she remembers instances as a volunteer when she went dwelling and cried, “which occurs,” she mentioned, “and it is OK.”

It didn’t cease her from volunteering and finally working for this system.

Fiza Rajput, now 20, has been volunteering with ConnecTeen since she was 16 years outdated. (Colin Corridor/CBC)

“From my expertise as a volunteer and in addition from the conversations I’ve had with volunteers, it is in regards to the influence you make … you had been nonetheless in a position to make a reference to somebody and allow them to know they had been vital and cared for anyway,” mentioned De Vera Macayan.

‘Teenagers will help teenagers’

Rajput and Leon imagine nobody is best ready to speak with younger individuals in misery than different younger individuals. 

“There’s genuinely no different inhabitants that is going to narrate to teenagers greater than teenagers, therefore the identify, I suppose, ConnecTeen, as a result of you understand teenagers will help teenagers,” mentioned Rajput.

The hotline shouldn’t be just for teenagers. Adults can get involved, too, in the event that they need to speak with somebody in regards to the teenagers of their life.

Potential ConnecTeen volunteers should apply, after which make it by an interview and a bunch role-playing session. In the event that they’re accepted, they obtain greater than 60 hours of coaching. That features time sitting with a coach who helps them reply to chats, texts and calls till they’re able to do it themselves. 

Through the pandemic ConnecTeen volunteers have labored remotely. They keep in fixed communication with a Misery Centre supervisor all through their shifts, and people supervisors are nonetheless in a position to monitor all the chats and calls.

From January to October 2021, ConnecTeen volunteers had virtually 2,800 conversations, which is down from pre-pandemic ranges.

The Misery Centre says that is probably as a result of they weren’t in a position to do in-person displays at colleges to promote the service. For now, they’re doing digital periods to attempt to get the phrase out to college students.


If you happen to or somebody you like is struggling, AHS recommends the next assets:

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