Lina, Desjardins employee and dedicated Kids Help Phone volunteer

Lina has worked at Desjardins Insurance for over 30 years. For the past 4 years, she has also volunteered for Kids Help Phone, an organization that the Desjardins Foundation supports.

Mental health issues aren't new, but they've certainly intensified over the past year. Young people have been hit particularly hard. As a crisis responder, Lina has witnessed the increase in mental distress firsthand. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with her to learn more. Here's what she had to say.

Q : Why did you become a volunteer for Kids Help Phone? What motivates you to volunteer?

A : My interest in helping people started way back when I was in grade 7. As I sat in school staring out the window at an old age home, I thought about the older people living there and how sad and lonely some of them might be. This curiosity and compassion built up over time and led me to start volunteering every Wednesday after school. Listening to older people talk about life, illnesses and how lonely they felt opened my heart. That's how I started volunteering. It was fulfilling and rewarding. Being able to help others brought joy to my life.

Q : How does it work when a young person in distress reaches out to you at Kids Help Phone? What is the Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone?

A : The Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone is a 24/7 texting service to help anyone—no matter their age—in crisis situations. Our goal is to help people calm down and keep them safe in times of crisis. We try to help them find ways to handle these situations on their own in the future. We offer a wide range of articles, tools and resources in their area. We help to identify the texter’s next steps and create a plan for them to stay safe. If that's not possible, we contact first responders.

Q : COVID-19 hasn't been easy for a lot of people. The number of people contacting KHP has soared since the pandemic began. How are young people doing right now? As a text line worker, how do you think the pandemic has affected people the most?

A : Crisis responders have been hearing a lot about loneliness, anxiety and depression since the beginning of the pandemic. Young people are alone at home, and they're feeling it. It's a difficult time and there seems to be more online bullying.

Q : Tell us more about your experience as a crisis responder.

A : My experience as a crisis responder has been wonderful because it emphasizes compassion, how to be a better listener, empathy, strategies for conflict resolution and teamwork. It’s a rewarding job that not only helps others, but also improves your self-confidence, beliefs, values and abilities.

Q : What do you need to be a volunteer for Kids Help Phone?

A : If you care about people, you can easily learn to be a volunteer. Caring about people is the only requirement. You need empathy. You need compassion. There’s a training program that explains everything you need to know. It's simple, easy and interesting. It teaches you a lot about talking to people, which doesn't just help you for your role as a volunteer—it helps you in your personal life, too. And most importantly, managers are always there to coach you, so you’re never alone when helping young people in distress.

Want to volunteer for Kids Help Phone? They're looking for bilingual crisis responders. If you're interested, visit their website - External link. This link opens in a new window. to learn more.