Kitchener-Waterloo

New national help line will help people in distress immediately, local MP says

Inspired by the work of local distress lines in the region, local MP Harold Albrecht wanted to implement something similar on a national level. A report addressing the national help line framework will come to Parliament before the deadline this December.

A report addressing the national help line framework to come to Parliament before deadline this December

The framework for a national help line may be released at the end of this year to further help those in crisis. (Peerayot/Shutterstock)

There are times when people are feeling upset or depressed slip through the cracks.

They may call a distress line, but are told to leave a message rather than getting to speak to someone right away.

And Kitchener-Conestoga Conservative MP Harold Albrecht said that's not good enough.

​"The big thing is that when someone calls we don't want them to get an answering machine," Albrecht said. "We want someone there who can direct that call to another person as oppose to simply a message that's left and potentially not returned early enough."

Albrect introduced a bill calling for a national framework for suicide prevention, which became law four years ago. 

Though it's taken some time, a report addressing the national help line will come to Parliament before their deadline this December.

Albrecht said he was inspired by the work of local mental health and addiction hotlines in the region and wanted to implement something similar across the country.

"We have individual communities across the country that do good work," he said. "But in between those communities there are gaps and I would like to see those gaps filled."

A constant need for the community

Here 24/7 is the local distress line for Waterloo Region that receive calls from those in crisis and from those seeking help with mental health and addiction.

Meredith Gardiner, director of Here 24/7, told CBC's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris that "the story of Here 24/7 is the story of the need in our community."

Since they opened up their services in 2014, Gardiner said she has been astonished with the high number of calls they receive. On average, they receive more than 4,000 calls a month.

"We accepted a little over 51,000 calls ... last fiscal year," she said. "Our call volume in the beginning was quite high and we anticipated that over time it would lower but it hasn't. It's maintained that volume."

She added having a national distress line would benefit everyone no matter where they live. It would also facilitate the process of finding the right services as the system can sometimes be difficult to navigate.

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