Kids Help Phone partners with Vector Institute
July 5, 2023
TORONTO – Canada’s only national, multi-lingual 24/7, free, e-mental health service for youth, Kids Help Phone (KHP) and the Vector Institute, a globally-renowned artificial intelligence (AI) institute that empowers researchers to develop and adopt AI responsibly, are partnering to deepen and expand KHP’s evidence-based service delivery for young people across Canada.
The partnership leverages AI to further develop service delivery at KHP by enhancing their e-mental health services to complement the skills and expertise of its dedicated frontline staff.
Together the organization will focus on reducing barriers to accessing e-mental health support through further development in triaging, navigating, and empowering young people to find what they need in the Kids Help Line service system. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), KHP will continue to adapt to the way young people speak, allowing frontline staff to offer more precise services to young people based on their words, phrases, and speech patterns, and route young people to available and appropriate service channels.
KHP has the largest anonymous and aggregated youth mental health dataset in Canada. Using the Vector Institute’s expertise in safe AI and keeping equity at the core of everything it does, KHP will also build testing frameworks that include manual validation from clinical staff to ensure its AI models are accurate, unbiased, fair and explainable.
KHP uses data to enhance service delivery, build better programs and seeks to re-shape the e-mental health landscape for young people in Canada.
As a leader in innovation, KHP has been using AI to support frontline staff since 2018 with the introduction of AI-based triaging via text. This AI tool ensures high-risk texters reach our volunteer crisis responders in seconds. The partnership with the Vector Institute will ensure that KHP stays on the leading edge of innovation and the ethical use of AI as we boldly grow and scale user-focused programs and data-driven digital services.
Kids Help Phone has and will always deliver service ‘human to human’ and, respecting the principles of safe AI, will use AI and machine learning to assist our clinicians with research and data analytics to build and scale existing programs.
“Our partnership with the Vector Institute is exciting because it enables us to continue using highly innovative approaches to address the youth mental health crisis. As a leader in technology-enabled e-mental health services for youth, Kids Help Phone is a 34-year-old start up that has always thoughtfully adapted to changing technology so it can continue to meet the needs of young people across Canada. Together KHP and the Vector Institute will fuel the necessary evolution of e-mental health service delivery in Canada,” said Katherine Hay (pictured), president & CEO, Kids Help Phone.
“Vector is privileged to be working with Kids Help Phone. Their work with young people is so important. Leveraging AI to improve services to those in need of mental healthcare is a great example of how AI can benefit society,” said Tony Gaffney, president & CEO, the Vector Institute.
Kids Help Phone recently launched the Feel Out Loud movement with a goal of seismically shifting the entire youth mental health system in Canada through unparalleled data, research, partnership and advocacy. Feel Out Loud is the largest movement for youth mental health in Canada’s history – it will raise $300 million to unlock hope for young people to thrive in their worlds.
“More and more, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are being woven into our lives. AI represents an opportunity for us to actually make people of Canada better off, significantly better off. Through our partnership with Kids Help Phone, our goal is simple: assist frontline staff through modernized processing, while ensuring the young people they serve with most acute needs are supported first. When we set up the Vector Institute, we vowed to be great at academic AI, but we also said that we are going to help Canadian institutions where AI will make a difference – this partnership demonstrates AI for good,” said Ed Clark, chair of the Vector Institute.
- Kids Help Phone has supported young people more than 15 million times since the onset of COVID-19 – this number increases every day.
- On average, 76 per cent of young people share something with Kids Help Phone they’ve never shared with anyone else.
- On average, 88 per cent of young people feel better after connecting with Kids Help Phone.
Michael Green, president & CEO, Canada Health Infoway and member of the board of directors, Kids Help Phone, asserted: “People in Canada are looking for a modernized connected healthcare system that enhances patient care, reduces risk, and saves lives. As the leader for Canada Health Infoway, witnessing a partnership like Kids Help Phone and the Vector Institute shows progress toward a better mental health landscape and will make a tremendous difference in supporting young people in this country.”
“Young people’s needs are changing quickly and they’re using technology in their everyday lives to solve challenges, including ones related to their mental health and wellness. The current youth mental health crisis cannot be addressed without embracing modern technology and meeting young people where they are, so they feel seen, supported and heard. With each generation of young people, Kids Help Phone has evolved, adopting changing technology and it will continue to do so for future generations,” said Dr. Valerie Taylor, department head, Psychiatry, University of Calgary & Alberta Health Services and head of Mental Health, Calgary Zone / board of directors, Kids Help Phone.
About the Vector Institute
Launched in 2017, the Vector Institute works with industry, institutions, startups, and governments to build AI talent and drive research excellence in AI to develop and sustain AI-based innovation to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. Vector aims to advance AI research, increase adoption in industry and health through programs for talent, commercialization, and application, and lead Canada towards the responsible use of AI. Programs for industry, led by top AI practitioners, offer foundations for applications in products and processes, company-specific guidance, training for professionals, and connections to workforce-ready talent. Vector is funded by the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada through the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, and leading industry sponsors from across multiple sectors of Canadian industry.