Mental health support line maxed out

A peer-support support line in the Sudbury area that helps people who suffer from mental illness is now getting more calls than it can handle.

Sudbury-based organization says it's experiencing a flood of calls since expanding in northeast

A peer-support support line in the Sudbury area that helps people who suffer from mental illness is now getting more calls than it can handle.

It has been a year since the Warm Line expanded to add more people answering calls in northeastern Ontario, but it's already reaching a critical mass.

"It's non-stop ... put down a call ... pick-up another call," Kaarina Ranta said. "We're not reaching all of the calls that come in."

Like everyone answering phones for the Warm Line, Ranta has also suffered from a mental illness — postpartum depression — and now speaks to people who suffer from similar conditions.

Among the three staff in the Sudbury office, they usually answer about 40 calls a night.

Calls are mostly from northern Ontario, but some are from elsewhere in Canada. One call even came in from Texas.

'Getting a busy signal'

Warm Line manager Shana Calixte said some callers prefer to speak confidentially than see a doctor or therapist. And there are others who call on a nightly basis.

"We know there are people out there who use the service as a nightly check-in, as part of their wellness program," Calixte said.

But, "they are getting a busy signal."

The Warm Line is also seeing an increase in demand from Elliot Lake, where community members are still dealing with the tragedy that befell the community when the Algo Centre Mall’s roof collapsed, killing two women and injuring dozens of others.

The province sent mental health workers to Elliot Lake on Friday to assist those who may need someone to talk to.      

"What we heard from the organizations we went to is that the mall was often a place for people to congregate," Calixte said.

"So they've actually received more people calling in or seeking their support because they're experiencing things that relate to isolation [or] depression for instance."

While in Elliot Lake, she handed out the Warm Line number to area residents.

Calixte said she hopes to see more people in the north taking calls.  In the meantime, they refer them to other similar Warm Lines elsewhere in the province — however Calixte said those lines often offer up a busy signal as well.