Crisis line workers in Trail, and across the B.C. Interior, are being recognized for helping more people in crisis than ever before.
In 2020, crisis line responders provided close to 450,000 minutes of empowering support, skilled assessment and crisis de-escalation. This equates to answering the calls from around 30,000 people in the Interior, a record since the service began in 2012.
The jump in minutes of support provided reflects a 47 per cent increase over the previous year.
This critical work of a specially trained body of volunteers was recently recognized by the province.
“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,” explains Janet MacNeil, executive director Trail FAIR Society.
Trail FAIR Society is one of five partner agencies working in an innovative and collaborative network to answer crisis calls across the region.
Other partner agencies making up the Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN) include Canadian Mental Health Association branches in the Kootenays, Vernon, Cariboo and Chilcotin as well as the Kelowna Community Resources.
Nearly double the increase in calls 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,” says Sheila Dudek, coordinator of the Trail ICLN.
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 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Given the scope of service provided, crisis line responder training is approximately 70+ hours including online self-study, live training sessions, group observations and one-on-one mentoring to ensure people are fully vetted and supported to respond to crisis situations.
Crisis line responders are trained to work through an evidence-based crisis de-escalation model resulting in 98 per cent of calls not requiring intervention. Crisis line workers 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, said Dudek.
“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.”
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 pandemic regulations with a commitment to the health and safety of their people and those reaching out for support.
Interior Crisis Line Network can be reached by phone at 1.888.353.2273(CARE), 24/7/365 or by chat at interiorcrisisline.com from Thursday to Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Interested in volunteering? Go to interiorcrisisline.com or call 1.250.364.2326.