Crisis line responders in the Interior Region are being praised for record-breaking service, and here in Cranbrook the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kootenay Branch is thanking all of the dedicated responders.
Crisis Line Awareness Week (March 22 to 29) is an opportunity to thank the anonymous responders who save lives every day.
In 2020, Crisis Line Responders across the Interior Region provided close to 450,000 minutes of empowering support, skilled assessment and crisis de-escalation, helping 30,000 people. A record since the service began in 2012, explains a CMHA press release.
Carey Fraser, Executive Director of CMHA Kootenays, explained that the organization is a committed partner of the Interior Crisis Line Network and views the services as an integral way that the community is cared for.
“We are very proud of how our crisis line staff and volunteers have come together during COVID,” said Fraser.
The Cranbrook branch is one of five partner agencies who work to answer crisis calls across the region through the Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN). Other partner agencies who make up the Interior Crisis Line Network include CMHA Cariboo Chilcotin, CMHA Vernon, Kelowna Community Resources, and Trail F.A.I.R. Society.
CMHA says that the jump in minutes of support provided reflects a 47 per cent 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,” said CMHA Kootenays.
One positive note that has come from the situation is the “incredible calibre” of people coming forward to volunteer as crisis line responders, says Natalie Hake, manager of the Cranbrook ICLN site.
“We are so fortunate in Cranbrook for the crisis line team we have which is only growing,” said Hake. “In 2020, more volunteers came forward than ever before and we are hopeful this trend will continue as call volume and intensity continues to increase.”
The ICLN provides phone based support for four services, 24/7. This includes the regional crisis line, the provincial mental health line, the provincial suicide line and the national suicide prevention service.
Hake says that responders undergo 70+ hours of training and they are skilled, caring people from the community.
The evidence-based crisis-de-escalation model results in 98 per cent of calls not requiring intervention, says the ICLN.
6,276 interventions to 911 and mental health emergency services were saved in 2020, along with 9,000 additional mental health worker visits.
A message left on the Cranbrook ICLN administrative line thanks a Cranbrook crisis line responder for saving a person’s life.
“That message was really impactful for our people,” said Melanie Spring, support staff with the Cranbrook ICLN site. “Our people know they are making a difference whether it’s providing the most appropriate resource or supporting them in ‘getting through another day’, but to receive an unexpected thank you when they are working so hard meant a lot.”
The ICLN received a record number of calls during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the organization was able to shift their technology and focus to help serve the community in a digital way.
“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 Cranbrook team is an important contributor to our collective success and their commitment to making crisis line service accessible to their community and the Region has been inspiring,” said Asha Croggon, Director of the Interior Crisis Line Network.
The Interior Crisis Line Network can be reached at 1-888-353-2273, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round. Online chat is also available at interiorcrisisline.com from Thursday to Sunday from 5p.m. to 9p.m.
Those interested in volunteering can go to interiorcrisisline.com or call 250-426-5222 ext. 3063.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.