Fernie supports national three-digit crisis line
By Erin Knutson
The City of Fernie endorsed the 9-8-8 Crisis Line Initiative at its Monday (March 22) meeting, joining a host of other B.C. communities that have sent letters of support to local dignitaries, the federal Minister of Health, the CRTC, and Union of BC Municipalities championing the movement.
The proposed national three-digit suicide and crisis hotline will improve caller accessibility on par with other emergency services like 911.
“Traditional crisis lines have ten digits, and users often face wait times instead of direct contact with a crisis line worker,” said a city staff report.
Parliament motioned last December to support its development with the expectation the number will be fully operational by spring 2023, slightly behind the U.S. projected launch date in 2022 for its version of the line.
According to a House of Commons report, the Public Health Agency of Canada will be providing $21 million over the next five years to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to deliver a pan-Canadian suicide prevention service.
The service will offer bilingual support across multiple platforms, including phone, text, and online chat, while providing unique features designed to make the experience more helpful for users and service providers.
The CAMH will initiate a phased approach with partners Crisis Services Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Association to see its fruition.
With the increased need for mental health supports, given the pandemic’s nature, campaigners for 9-8-8 are being heard as the three-digit crisis line moves forward and as local communities like Fernie endorse it.
“Bringing change to the way Canada delivers mental health care is a big part of our 9-8-8 campaign. Making sure our public leaders and healthcare decision-makers hear your voices and your support for 9-8-8 will help to make it happen,” said Kathleen Finlay, founder of the 988 Campaign for Canada, in a call to action on their site.
For more on the campaign: www.988campaignforcanada.com