The University of Toronto is encouraging students to take advantage of My SSP, a text and chat helpline service that offers free and confidential counselling on a 24-7 basis – and is now available to all students on all three campuses.
Short for My Student Support Program, My SSP provides access to trained counsellors who can help students with issues ranging from academic stress and relationship problems to depression, loneliness and struggles navigating cultural and language barriers.
On-demand support can be accessed over the phone in 35 languages, while support that is scheduled in advance is available in 146 languages. Text-based chat services, meanwhile, are available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Korean via the My SSP smartphone app.
First made available to international students at U of T in March 2019, the program, developed by keep.meSAFE in collaboration with Morneau Shepell, is now being rolled out to all the university’s students.
Sandy Welsh, U of T’s vice-provost, students, described My SSP as a leading phone and chat-based support service, noting that it has been used at numerous post-secondary institutions with great results.
“University is a time of major transition for students, and one that can bring with it an array of challenges,” said Welsh. “We feel it’s important to provide students with quick, easy and discreet access to professional counsellors who can help them in their difficult moments.
“After rolling out My SSP to international students last year, we soon realized that this could be beneficial to all our students, so we moved quickly to expand the service."
Students can access My SSP’s real-time support or schedule ongoing support by downloading the My SSP app or dialing 1-844-451-9700.The service is confidential, within the limits of the law, so family, friends and professors won’t know that a student has used it unless the student chooses to inform them.
Welsh said My SSP was deemed a strong fit for U of T because of the cultural and linguistic diversity of the counsellors employed by the third-party service.
“We know that our own students speak over 100 languages, so we saw an opportunity to provide them with 24-7 access to a professional counselling service that’s culturally informed and meets the diverse linguistic and cultural needs of our students,” said Welsh.
She encouraged students to use My SSP whenever they feel like they need any help, and not only in times of crisis.
“If you’re stressed about your coursework, worried about a family issue or feeling distressed due to any life event, My SSP is there for you to call and get access to the support you need,” Welsh said.
“It’s a way for the university to provide early intervention to students and help them work through issues, making it a welcome addition to the existing range of campus and community mental health services at students’ disposal.”
Students can speak to a trained crisis worker at any hour of the day.
Other 24-7 supports available to students include:
The following services are available to students on all three campuses:
Faculty and staff have access to 24-7 support through: