UVic emergency contacts and student services signs outdated


*Update follows original story*

Outdated phone numbers for emergency and other student services on more than 500 signs in washrooms on campus have needed updating for several years. In 2010, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) amalgamated six emergency services into the single, current 24-7 crisis line based in Nanaimo to save costs. The signs at UVic direct students to the defunct NEED Crisis Line and an automated message giving the current Vancouver Island Crisis Line number: 1(888)494-3888.

The NEED Crisis Line has been replaced by NEED2, the parent organization that funds online suicide prevention and awareness organization Youthspace. NEED2 also offers services like workshops for volunteers or classrooms, as well as support groups. Youthspace co-ordinator Maureen Elworthy says response to suicide hotlines and emergency services should not be delayed.

“I’ve contacted UVic about a dozen times in the last year, and I know other organizations have, too, because there are a couple of numbers on that list that are no longer correct,” says Elworthy. “And then there are things like Youthspace, the website I work on, that aren’t listed, which would be applicable for students.” Youthspace.ca offers e-counselling, discussion forums and a database of resources.

The UVic Division of Student Affairs is aware of the issue because several on-campus contact numbers on the signs are also obsolete. Joel Lynn, executive director of student services, confirms that a team was assembled two months ago to revise the contact information and that the team is currently refining the sign’s wording, format and content and ensuring it is aligned with UVic’s recently updated signage standards.

Lynn says the new signs will be posted before September 2013 and a supplementary webpage with a more extensive list of health and support services will be launched on the student affairs website at the same time.

“It’ll be a much smaller list than what we see today,” says Lynn of the washroom signs. “There are so many different community organizations that are changing more rapidly than they did prior. What we’ll do is have the key emergency numbers on there for students: 911, 811 [for HealthLink B.C.], campus security, SafeWalk, those kinds of things, and then direct students, staff and faculty to a website that will have information that will be monitored and updated on a much more regular basis.”

Lynn says this will be the easiest and most cost-effective option to keep the contact information resources at UVic and off-campus relevant.

Demand for mental health services for students is high; suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth in B.C. after car accidents, and approximately 375 youth required medical intervention for harm they caused themselves in 2008. Twelve per cent of people between the ages of 15 and 24 considered suicide, and one in 20 acted on those intentions. Updated stats will appear in the 2013 B.C. Adolescent Health Survey report scheduled for release this spring.

Demand for mental and emotional support on campus is also increasing, prompting UVic Counselling Services to compile a list of off-campus counsellors who will see students on a sliding-fee scale.

“We know that students are under a lot of pressure and stress from themselves, their teachers, their families, their communities, and just trying to carve out your own space — lots of discovery in the first years of university as well,” says Elworthy. “It can be a breaking point for a lot of people, so I think having multiple avenues that youth can reach out [to] for help is vital.”


Crisis Services

24-7 Vancouver Island Crisis Line

24-7 Suicide Distress Line
1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)

24-7 Province-wide Mental Health Support Line
310-6789 (no area code needed)

Women’s Sexual Assault Centre Crisis and Info Line
250-383-3232 (Monday–Friday, 9:30 a.m. –  4:45 p.m.)

NEED2 Suicide Prevention Education and Support
250-386-6328 (Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
1524 Fort St.

Youthspace – online support for youth in crisis

UVic Counselling Services
250-721-8341 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
University Centre, Room B270

UVic Peer Helping
McPherson Library Learning Commons Room 135e
Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. –  4:30 p.m.
Or through Counselling Services at (250) 721-8341

All websites have databases of further related services and information.



As early as April 2013, new signs appeared in campus restrooms.