VICTORIA -- The B.C. government has announced plans to launch a free 24/7 mental health counselling and referral service across the province.

The around-the-clock mental health service is expected to launch this spring, and will be available to all post-secondary students in every public and private institution across B.C., including domestic, international, full-time or part-time students.

The mental health service will be operated by Morneau Shepell, a Toronto-based company which promises to provide immediate services to the nearly 500,000 post-secondary students that currently attend universities and colleges across the province.

"Many students don’t come forward and ask for the help they need because of the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues," said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, in a news release Tuesday.

"This service will meet young people where they are at and provide them immediate access to someone to talk to, without shame or judgment."

The 24/7 service will be introduced after the B.C. government completes a final engagement period with students and universities. 

The province's announcement comes just one day before the 10th annual Bell Let's Talk day. The Canadian mental health initiative will see Bell donating five cents to mental health programs across the country for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of Bell's Facebook frame or Snapchat filter used throughout the day.

More information about Bell Let's Talk Day can be found online here