Kids Help Phone launches new 'BroTalk' service for teen boys
Kids Help Phone is launching a new service specifically designed for teenaged boys that’s aimed at reducing the stigma and gender stereotypes that often prevent young men from reaching out for help.
BroTalk was created with 14- to 18-year-old boys in mind – a segment of the population that are 31 per cent less likely to discuss mental and emotional health issues and 36 per cent less likely to discuss suicide, according to Kids Help Phone President and CEO Sharon Wood.
Over the 25 years that Kids Help Phone has been operational, Wood said only one in five contacts have been from boys.
"What we have learned is when (teen boys) find the moment to reach the counselling service, online or on the phone, they have more likely escalated to a more serious situation," Wood told CTV's Canada AM on Thursday.
Wood said BroTalk, an online support service, was created with the input from teen boys.
"They told us about the stigma they face, about gender stereotypes, about shame and embarrassment about reaching out for help," she said.
Through working the teens in the design of the website, Wood said the organization learned even the term "mental health" did not resonate with the boys.
"Mental health itself, that language, was a barrier," she said. "They want to have stories of other boys, they want to see what other people are really living. They want to not talk about emotions and feelings head on … they'd rather have that conversation sort of side-by-side."
Wood said the website includes stories about boys and the topics they're interested in, as well as a way to "vent feelings" alongside resources and links for further help.
She said Kids Help Phone is encouraging parents to visit BroTalk.ca to get an idea of the resources specifically aimed at teen boys.
"We think it's a great tool to demystify help-seeking and to reduce the stigma," she said.