Distress Line: What We Do

Distress Line 416-408-HELP (4357) -Distress Centres’ trained volunteers provide telephone support for individuals experiencing emotional distress, marginalization, social isolation and those who may require crisis intervention and suicide/family violence intervention services. Universal access means that both volunteers and callers reflect the diversity of the community. For 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, trained volunteers, with the support of professional staff, respond to a wide variety of callers with an equally diverse range of emotional needs. Multiple support services are delivered through our central access number, 416-408-HELP, including:

  • An 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.