24/7 mental health line gets $950K after overwhelming demand
A made-in-Waterloo Region mental health support line is getting almost $1 million in extra funding from the local health integration network after the program was overwhelmed with calls in its first three months.
"Here 24/7" is the first program of its kind in Ontario, according to the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
It describes itself as "a single gateway into the entire addictions, mental health and crisis sector across our region, with help and support to navigate this system."
More than 7,800 residents have used the service since its launch in April — exceeding expectations by 75 per cent, accord to a release by the WWLHIN.
Demand overwhelms crisis line
In May, Help 24/7 wrote an open letter to the community apologizing for long wait times. An estimated 25 per cent of callers hung up before ever reaching a service coordinator.
"Based on the best data available to us as we designed this service, we expected to get around 80 calls and walk-ins per day. Instead, we've consistently had around 400 people contacting us each weekday," wrote Help 24/7 director, Helen Fishburn.
"We are sorry to anyone kept waiting as they reached out to us for help."
The $950,000 in additional funding from the WWLHIN is intended to help the service cut down the wait times, and reduce the number of people who hang up while on hold.