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Celebrating Crisis Line Awareness Week

In 2020, Crisis Line Responders across the Interior Region provided close to 450,000 minutes of empowering support, skilled assessment and crisis de-escalation. A record since the service began in 2012.

“Crisis Line Awareness week is a time to recognize the impact of this service and the important commitment of our staff and volunteers to support our communities during the added pressures of the last year,” shares Janet MacNeil, Executive Director Trail FAIR. Society.

Trail FAIR Society is one of five partner agencies who work in an innovative and collaborative network to answer crisis calls across the region. Other partner agencies who make up the Interior Crisis Line Network include CMHA Kootenays, CMHA Vernon, CMHA Cariboo and Chilcotin, and Kelowna Community Resources.

The jump in minutes of support provided reflects a 47% increase over 2019. The increase speaks to the need for people to feel connected and to reach out to self-manage mental health concerns and challenges ranging from simply feeling overwhelmed with the unknown to high-risk situations including harm towards themselves or others.

“We have been very fortunate to have both staff and volunteer crisis line responders coming forward from Trail to answer this increase in both call volume and complexity” explains Sheila Dudek, coordinator of the Trail ICLN site.

The ICLN provides 24/7 phone-based support on four services including the regional crisis line, the provincial mental health line, the provincial suicide line and the national suicide prevention service. In addition, people can reach out via chat Thursday to Sunday 5-9pmPT. 

Given the scope of service provided, Crisis Line Responder training is approximately 70+ hours including online self-study, live training sessions, group observations and 1:1 mentoring to ensure people are fully vetted and supported to respond to crisis situations. It takes a special person to volunteer 4+ hours every week to support someone struggling in that moment.

Celebrating the impact of these Crisis Line Responders during Crisis Line Awareness Week is an opportunity to thank them for ‘answering the call’ and providing close to 30,000 supportive contacts in 2020.

Crisis Line Responders are trained to work through an evidence-based crisis de-escalation model resulting in 98% of calls not requiring intervention. Crisis Line Responders effectively de-escalate situations and engage ‘right response’ guiding people to the least invasive/most appropriate intervention when needed.

Working collaboratively within the model resulted in saving 6,276 interventions to 911 and Mental Health Emergency Services and close to 9,000 additional Mental Health Worker visits in 2020. Developing collaborative safe plans that engage internal, personal, community-based and clinical supports have been critical in supporting people in self-managing their wellness during this time.

“Please tell your Crisis Line Responder they literally saved my life last night” was a voicemail left earlier this year on the administrative line. Though Crisis Line Responders are trained to de-escalate and support people to reach the most appropriate resource of ‘get through another day’, they don’t always get to hear directly the impact they’ve made so the message was appreciated. “It means a lot to our crisis line responders to know they’ve made a difference,” shares Sheila.

As the identity of Crisis Line Responders is confidential, Crisis Line Awareness Week offers a unique opportunity to say thank you on a larger scale for the important work they do, both as staff and volunteers.

During Covid, the Interior Crisis Line Network not only answered record number of calls, they transitioned to a state-of-the-art routing technology, joined the national suicide prevention service and shifted to online training. All while navigating Covid regulations with a commitment to the health and safety of their people and those reaching out for support.

“Crisis Line Responders and their managers across the region are an extraordinary community of committed and caring individuals who are truly making a difference. The Trail team is an important contributor to our collective success and has worked diligently to meet the growing need in both the Trail area and across the Region during this unprecedented time,” praises Asha Croggon, Director of the Interior Crisis Line Network. 

Often described as the invisible safety net that stretches under every community, Crisis Line Awareness Week (beginning March 22, 2021) is an opportunity to make this important service more visible. And thank Crisis Line Responders for who they are and how they’ve cared during these challenging times.

Interior Crisis Line Network can be reached by phone at 1.888.353.2273(CARE), 24/7/365 or by chat at interiorcrisisline.com (Thursday to Sunday 5-9 p.m.PT). It is a network made up of the five local crisis lines in the Interior Region and is funded by the Interior Health Authority. Interested in volunteering, go to interiorcrisisline.com or call 1.250.364.2326.