Saskatchewan launches text service for mental health
August 4, 2021
SASKATOON – As the province of Saskatchewan continues to reopen, a text-based service for the province is enabling people to contact a wide variety of mental health and wellness supports. The service, called Be SaskWell, is aimed at helping people with anxieties that have emerged during the COVID-19 crisis, and which may have deepened as restrictions are lifted.
Dr. Tracie Risling (pictured), an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Nursing and research lead with Be Saskwell, says many people are not aware of all the different mental health supports that are out there. The app, Risling said, is designed to help close that gap.
Be Saskwell (https://besaskwell.memotext.com/) just finished a 10-week pilot and now the service has launched its first official 10-week cycle.
“It’s an easy text signup to join and then it delivers 10 weeks of digital mental and wellness resources, and it’s really customizable to fit people’s needs and what they’re looking for,” Risling said.
She said the pilot demonstrated that texting is an effective way to connect with the public and to deliver resources they need. Members of the public can also participate online, using the web, or through a regular phone call. (In some areas of the province, people may not have texting services.)
After taking a short questionnaire, people are then connected with various resources. “There are so many exceptional online resources out there that people just don’t know about,” Risling said in an interview on Global TV’s News Morning Saskatoon.
She noted that the service is proactive and will check up on the person a few days later, to see how he or she is doing and whether the resources were useful. If not, others will be offered.
Tyler Moss, community and advisory board lead at Be Saskwell, said: “We’re checking in and just making sure how people are doing and offering them the ability to connect to services we otherwise probably have never heard of, myself included.”
Moss added, “It has been an interesting and unique process to see the service come together, as all the different resources have been populating on the app and become accessible to those that need them.”
The project was made possible by a team of partners across the country, including the University of Saskatchewan, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, and Ontario-based Memotext.
CAMH recently released survey results showing that a third of Canadians have moderate to severe anxiety about returning to their pre-pandemic routines.
Risling says the program is planning on growing its service in order to help reach more people. The organization is also looking to gather more information on how it can be improved moving forward.
An additional 10-week cycle is being planned for the fall, for when students go back to school and many adults return to the office. The public may be experiencing additional stress at that time.