About the Program
Our 408-HELP line has 550+ highly trained Distress Centres’ volunteers that provide telephone support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with the support of professional staff. Many of our callers are individuals experiencing emotional distress, marginalization, social isolation and those who may require crisis intervention and suicide/family violence intervention services.
Our 408-HELP line provides:
- Emotional support service for those with chronic mental health problems
- Support and crisis intervention services for those currently experiencing situational distress or crisis
- Family violence response
- Suicide prevention services
- Emergency intervention and response
Distress Centres enables callers to continue functioning independently in the community when possible, refers them to other appropriate community or professional resources if needed, intervenes in life-threatening situations, and provides direct help in suicidal and other emergency situations. In particular, Distress Line volunteers provide invaluable support to individuals with chronic mental health problems living in the community, or those individuals experiencing a period of life transition or who are suicidal or in crisis. Distress Line volunteers respond to the immediate and changing needs of the callers, taking into account their diverse cultures, perspectives, and problem-solving abilities.
In 1999, a 175-language interpreter service was made available for callers with limited English capabilities. In addition, Bell Relay services are being used to respond to the needs of the hearing impaired. The goal of universal access is now a reality as barriers to usage have been eliminated.
Distress Centres works collaboratively with medical and mental health professionals to ensure that those at risk are made aware of our 24-hour service. Various agencies, psychiatrists, and counsellors leave the Distress Centres phone number on their voicemail for after-hours support.
Our long-term goal is to decrease the risk of suicide by improving the emotional well-being and personal resiliency of those who call.