MARKHAM, Ontario -

Kids Help Phone is an “e-mental health service” that provides a safe space for youth to talk over the phone, online chat or text in any moment of crisis or need. The program conducted a recent survey showing that one in three texters is experiencing distress about returning to the classroom.

To help, Honda’s charitable arm, Honda Canada Foundation, said on Tuesday it has become the national sponsor of Kids Help Phone’s new Back to School program.

The HCF-donated funds will help provide children in Canada with access to support services, counseling and information as they return to school.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit at the beginning of March, HCF says it worked to identify and support local communities with donations of personal protective equipment to hospitals, as well as funds for food banks.

The foundation has now broadened its reach. HCF says it recognizes that this year’s return to school will look different for students. The foundation believes more support is necessary to guide students through the transition.

With Kids Help Phone’s Back to School program, children, youth and educators will gain access to online tools and resources to help them throughout September and October as school reopens.

Some of those resources include Counselor in the Classroom for elementary school students, Good2Talk for post-secondary school students and back-to-school checklists, tips and toolkits for educators.

The foundation says its donation is part of an ongoing pandemic response in which Honda has supported its North American customers, associates, and business partners. Just as important, it says it is assisting local communities in the region where help is needed most.

HCF’s donations of more than $600,000 to date have supported nutrition, healthcare and other needs across the country as part of its COVID-19 emergency relief efforts. Honda Canada is also encouraging its associates to become “virtual volunteers” with HCF partners across Canada.

“The Foundation has pivoted several times since the pandemic began, to adapt to changing needs, and provide support for services required in our communities,” Honda Canada Foundation chair Tony Facciolo said in a news release.

Facciolo continued, “We know the past few months have had an impact on everyone’s mental wellbeing, including our children, where many have been in isolation at home. Through this partnership, our goal is to ensure that young people have access to professional counselors and crisis responders during these times of uncertainty.”

"Through this partnership we’ll ensure young people, parents and educators have the tools and support they need, 24/7, to help in this challenging back-to-school transition.” said Kids Help Phone president and chief executive officer Katherine Hay. “Thank you, Honda Canada Foundation, for this generous gift and supporting the mental health of young people across the country.”