Peer Help: Mental Health Support

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Mental Health Support

Appointments or Walk-in Active Listening Sessions

The Peer Help Centre offers students Active Listening sessions during office hours that are confidential, where a Peer Helper volunteer can listen empathetically and without judgment, to validate the person’s thoughts and feelings. Every Peer Helper volunteer is trained in Active Listening and Communication, Empathic Assertiveness, and safeTALK by the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, and/or LivingWorks Education.

Peer Support Phone Line

The Peer Support Phone Line is an Active Listening information line and resource/referral service run for students by trained Peer Support Coach volunteers. Whether a student is feeling lonely, stressed, or simply wants someone to talk to, the Peer Support Coach volunteers offer a confidential, accessible form of immediate short-term support. The Phone Line is available during office hours. You can call the Peer Support Phone Line at 613-783-1380 ext. 155.

Peer Support Chat

The Peer Support Chat is a new initiative to the Peer Help Centre launched in February 2020. The Peer Help Centre implemented an Active Listening Peer Support Chat for the University of Ottawa community so that students who sought help could immediately reach someone through a more accessible form of communication. The Peer Support Chat is available during office hours and all the Peer Support Coach volunteers are trained in Active Listening and Communication, Empathic Assertiveness, and ASIST by the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, and/or LivingWorks Education. Click on the purple icon on the bottom left corner to chat with a trained volunteer.

Emergency Procedures and Resources

If someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, here’s what you can do to support them.

The first step is to determine if they are having a crisis or non-immediate crisis situation.

How can I know if someone is having a crisis or a non-crisis situation?

Crisis Situations Examples

  • Actively suicidal students (who claim they have a plan to commit immediately);
  • Actively self-harming students; and
  • Students who are distressed, need immediate attention (were sexually harassed, assaulted, raped, are actively being abused, intimate partner violence or violence of any kind).

Non-Crisis Situations Examples

  • Students with suicidal ideation (have been thinking about suicide, have no plans to commit);
  • Students who are thinking of self-harming;
  • Students who disclose they want to seek mental health support (depression, anxiety, situational); and
  • Students who have been harassed, assaulted, or abused in the past who are not in immediate danger, but would like to disclose their experiences to a professional and seek help.

Now that you know the difference between crisis and non-immediate crisis situations. The following are the necessary procedures to take:

Crisis Situation
When there’s a crisis situation there are different procedures depending on the situation and/or the location of the person in crisis.

  • On-Campus Procedures
    • If a student is on-campus and they are facing a mental health crisis:
      • The student should be offered to be taken to the uOttawa walk-in clinic located in 100 Marie-Curie on the 1st floor; and
      • If the student does not want to go to the uOttawa walk-in clinic. The Protection Services could be contacted for emergencies at 613-562-5411. (Please note that the University has 20 panic buttons around the campus that could be used for emergencies).
  • Off-Campus Procedures
    • If a student is off-campus and they are facing a mental health crisis:
      • Dial 9-1-1; and
      • The mental health Crisis Line could also be reached at 613-722-6914 (1-866-996-0991 outside of Ottawa).

Non-Crisis Situation
When there’s a non-crisis situation there are different procedures depending on the situation and/or the location of the person.

  • On-Campus and Off-Campus Procedures
    • If a student is on-campus and they are in a non-crisis situation:
      • Students should be offered on-campus and off-campus resources including distress lines.
        • The Peer Help Centre’s Active Listening Services;
        • SASS Counselling and Coaching (100 Marie-Curie on the 4th floor);
        • Good2Talk Line or Chat (bilingual): 1-866-925-5454 or text ‘’GOOD2TALKON’’ to 686868;
        • Distress Centre Line (Bilingual): 613-238-3311;
        • Tel-Aide Outaouais (French only):
        • Gatineau Helpline: 819-775-3223
        • Ottawa Helpline: 613-741-6433
        • Outside Outaouais Helpline: 1-800-567-9699; and
        • Any other resources that’s related to their situation.


What is Active Listening, Why is it Important and How is it Different from Counselling?

Active Listening helps the person feel listened, understood and cared about in a non-judgmental environment. It aids in self-acceptance and aims through warmth, validation and encouragement. Lack of mental health support, such as Active Listening services, can cause a person’s mental health concerns to escalate to worse and make it harder to speak or share their feelings. When it comes to mental health support, listening is helping because the listener can identify and pick up on non-verbal cues or signs early on a person’s mental health.

Active listening sessions at the Peer Help Centre differ from counselling services. It is offered by peers who may seem easier to approach and who can better adapt to the situation of another peer. As students, volunteers are not certified as counsellors; they are trained not to advise what actions to take, but to listen, and to validate a peer that seeks help and wishes to confide in someone.

Recommended Resources

Crisis Line (Bilingual)

  • Website:
  • Within Ottawa 24/7 Crisis Line: 613-722-6914
  • Outside of Ottawa 24/7 Crisis Line: 1-866-996-0991

Good2Talk (Bilingual)

  • Website:
  • 24/7 Helpline: 1-866-925-5454
  • Crisis Text Line: GOOD2TALKON (or ALLOJECOUTEON in French) to 686868

Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region (Bilingual)

  • Website:
  • Tel: 613-238-1089
  • 24/7 Distress Line: 613-238-3311
  • 24/7 Crisis Line: 613-722-6914 or 1-866-996-0991

Tel-Aide Outaouais (French Only)

  • Website:
  • Gatineau Helpline: 819-775-3223
  • Ottawa Helpline: 613-741-6433
  • Outside Outaouais Helpline: 1-800-567-9699

Self-Help Tools

TAO (Therapy Assistance Online) (Bilingual)

An online platform of tools and interactive modules that can help you manage the many stressors that come with university life and can help you bounce back from challenging times. This service is available for free to anyone with a uOttawa email account, whether you’re a student or not. Programs available: Calming Your Worry, Let Go and Be Well, Interpersonal, Relationships and Communication, Leave Your Blues Behind, and Improving your Mood. You can anonymously complete a self-screening assessment that will ask you a few questions about common problems and then provide you with some feedback for the next steps you can take.
Self-Screening Assessment

Wellness Resources (Bilingual)

Counselling Services provides you with informational resources and online tools (books, videos, phone applications, worksheets, etc.) to help you develop good mental health literacy and support you in your academic and personal journey. Resources include; academic life, mental health, social life, and self-care.

Student Statistics

Statistics of most common issues’ students came in for at the Peer Help Centre in the academic year of 2019-2020.

University Stress
Family Issues
In Need of Resources
Relationship Issues
Suicidal Ideations or Crisis
Feeling of Loneliness