Text messages of support to help improve mental health amid war in Ukraine

An Alberta-based program is offering mental health support in four languages to help those impacted by the war in Ukraine.

The Resilience and Hope for Ukraine program is offering messages of support in Ukrainian, English, French and Russian.

Anyone with a cell phone can text “Hope4Ukraine” to 393939 to start receiving a supportive message once a day.

“It helps you to navigate through some of the anxiety and stress and fear that you might be dealing with,” said Deborah McKinnon, the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation. “Everything from everyday life to acute crisis like the situation in Ukraine.”

“Twenty-seven per cent of the people who sign up say that it really helps with the sense of depression, even sleepless nights.”

This isn’t the first time this type of program has been used in Alberta. The idea was first developed after the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires and was rolled out again in 2020 to help with anxiety over COVID-19.

“Now there are a number of different versions that include everything from special messages for youth to first responders to cancer patients,” said McKinnon. “There’s a lot of different applications and it’s been proven that this really makes a difference for people.

“Mental health is an everyday problem and we need to find everyday solutions for it.”

She added that the program can act as a gateway for people who need more help dealing with mental health stress. The texts contain links to additional mental health resources.

“Anywhere from as many as 95 per cent have said that the supportive messaging is helpful to them,” said McKinnon.

“Any time that we ask for help, sometimes the solutions have got different layers to them and Text4Hope is just the beginning.”

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