Mental Health at RSGC: Additional Student Wellness Support
RSGC has entered into a pilot program aimed at improving mental wellness support at Toronto high schools. The College has partnered with Overflo, a mental wellness support program designed specifically for youth.
The program begins on November 25 with an introductory assembly and will be available for the winter months, after school and evenings, with the service available for all boys in Grades 7 to 12. At the end of the pilot project, we will re-assess the service.
Overflo focuses on youth issues and is providing RSGC with a dedicated text support line. Overflo is managed independently from the school and there will be no sharing of identifiable information or conversation details. In addition to being confidential, all conversations take place by way of texting, and are therefore anonymous as only phone numbers are visible and names are not required*.
The text support line provides easy and convenient access to youth support responders who are familiar with youth issues, and familiar with our school’s environment, culture and values.
The platform will also allow RSGC to receive aggregate, school-wide statistics to help adjust and tailor the school’s education resources and programs. For example, if 30% of support line conversations are about drug use or bullying, the school can intensify its drug education or anti-bullying programs.
Some youth are reluctant to talk unless they can discuss their issues with a safe person who will not share their information with their parents or their schools. They may not be sure if their issues warrant calling a crisis line or contacting a therapist. This is why Overflo was created.
The student will text “START” to the school’s local support line number to initiate the conversation.
A Support Responder (SR) will reply and prompt a conversation. Any topic is open for discussion. Overflo’s SRs are not volunteers. They are trained, empathetic, non-judgmental individuals who understand our school’s culture and teen issues.
At times, the SRs may provide links to approved websites with helpful information and resources related to the student’s challenges.
For issues where Overflo feels that professional therapy is a more appropriate form of support, the students will be advised and will be provided with resource options to pursue or discuss with parents. Examples are situations involving severe/chronic depression or anxiety, suicide ideation, self-harm, eating disorders and substance abuse.
Benefits of the OVERFLO Program
Some students prefer anonymous texting over talking when it comes to sharing—it makes them feel safer.
Overflo’s SRs listen, validate, empathize and support, with no judgement passed. Most of the time, people who are struggling are not looking for answers, opinions or solutions—it’s more important for them to be heard and understood. Studies have shown that just telling someone else about your challenges, and having them actively listen in a non-judgemental manner, can significantly improve distress levels.
Overflo’s SRs are familiar with the students’ school environment, culture and values. Understanding youth issues in context is key to understanding their challenges.
Overflo’s specialization is young people and the SRs are in tune with the challenges, jargon, habits and perspectives of youth in this community. When youth text in and are understood while using their own language and acronyms, they feel more comfortable and the discussion flows more naturally.
This is a support line and not a treatment or therapy program. Students will not feel that texting in is a ‘big deal’ or that a ‘crisis’ is a prerequisite for reaching out.
This unique partnership with Overflo will be the first of its kind in Canada and is aligned with our goal to provide the highest level possible of comprehensive support and education to our school community.
Please contact RSGC’s Senior School Social Worker, Andrea Kaye, if you require additional information about this program.
* Overflo may be required to provide personal information in response to a legally valid inquiry or order, such as a subpoena, summons, or court order, or as otherwise required or permitted by applicable law or legal process. If there is a risk of someone being harmed, Overflo would share the necessary information to provide help and protection.
Examples of questions & issues for which boys may turn to Overflo for support:
Parents aren’t home after school and something stressful happened during the day with friends
Questions about vaping or alcohol
Bullying of themselves or others
Scared to tell parents about something “bad” they did...how can they approach it?
“Coming out” issues/questions
Romantic feelings - how to approach the other person, what to say, etc.
Royal St. George's College is an independent school for boys located in The Annex neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The school admits boys from Grades 3 through 12. Our mission is to challenge and inspire each of our students to become the best version of himself.