9-8-8 six-month anniversary highlights key role of Vernon responders.

The Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon & District is providing care and compassion to individuals across Canada who are in crisis or are struggling with mental health.

May 30 was the six-month anniversary of the 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline. Across Canada, with the help of 39 network partners, including CMHA Vernon, there have been more than 200,000 interactions via phone or text.


“Equipped with specialized skills, our crisis line responders deliver immediate support during times of distress. They provide confidential, unbiased assistance through empathy, active listening, and compassionate risk assessments,” said Jessica Both, CMHA Vernon’s manager of crisis intervention and prevention.


“Our team goes above and beyond to support service users on both on the 9-8-8 service as well as our local lines, and we are in awe of their work every day.”

The 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline is free and confidential and provides live support by phone and text to everyone in Canada. It is available in English and French, 24 hours a day, every single day of the year.

“Working at CMHA Vernon as a crisis line responder has taught me that it doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, a lawyer, a child, a parent, a logger, or a nurse. We all have mental health struggles from time to time or every day, and the most important thing is that when we need to reach out to someone, there’s someone to reach out to. The 9-8-8 Helpline is for everyone when they are thinking about ending their lives or experiencing a mental health crisis,” stated a responder.

North Okanagan residents can dial or text 9-8-8 or they can access existing services like the Interior Crisis Line Network at 1-888-353-2273.

Every day in Canada, an average of 12 people die by suicide and suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34. Research shows suicide can be preventable and that crisis services helps save lives.

Presently, CMHA Vernon & District needs volunteers for crisis intervention and prevention services, including the 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline.

“Before becoming a crisis line responder, I thought mental health conversations were for hushed spaces. Now I have the pleasure of speaking with people from all walks of life. It has been eye opening, cathartic and soul building. It’s an opportunity to give back that I am incredibly grateful to be part of,” said one responder.

Volunteers are carefully screened and fully trained prior to taking calls. Volunteers also receive ongoing professional support.

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