A group of individuals in B.C.’s Interior are being celebrated for helping more people in crisis than ever before.
In the Interior last year, 47 per cent more people called crisis lines for support, setting a record year of calls for Interior Health Crisis Line Responders.
In 2020, crisis line responders provided 450,000 minutes of support, skilled assessment and crisis de-escalation to roughly 30,000 people in the Interior, a record since Interior Health began funding the services in 2012.
This jump in service, the group says, speaks to an increased need for people to feel connected and seek support regarding mental health concerns.
Callers reported talking with some people who simply felt overwhelmed with the unknown and others in more high-risk situations involving harm to themselves or others.
To mark Crisis Line Awareness Week (March 22 to 29), KCR Community Resources (KCR) in Kelowna extended their thanks to those who pick up the phone.
“We are very fortunate to have an incredible team of committed volunteers in the Central Okanagan and a record number of people coming forward to volunteer to meet the increase in both call volume and intensity,” said KCR family services manager Christine Hawkins.
KCR is one of five partner agencies that work in an innovative and collaborative network to answer crisis calls across the region. Another is the Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN), which 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.
According to the ICLN, the de-escalation model in which crisis line responders are trained results in 98 per cent of calls not requiring 911 intervention.
In 2020, this saved 7,276 intervention calls to 911 and almost 9,000 mental health-worker visits.
“Crisis Line Responders are skilled and caring people who willingly donate four or more hours a week to answer calls and to work collaboratively with people who are struggling in that moment,” said Central Okanagan ICLN site coordinator Michelle Nelmes.
As calls increased in 2020, so did the response from people they helped.
“’Please tell your Crisis Line Responder they literally saved my life last night,’ was a voicemail left earlier this year on the administrative line at ICLN. Our Crisis Line Responders know they are making a difference, but hearing a specific message like that lets them know that what they do really matters,” Nelmes said.
If you’re in need of support, the Interior Crisis Line Network can be reached at 1-888-353-2273. Those interested in volunteering can go to interiorcrisisline.com or call 1-250-763-8008, ext 112.
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