Crisis lines expand service across the interior

Regional crisis lines will expand their service throughout the Okanagan to improve access.

Changes at regional crisis lines mean improved access to areas without a local crisis line, no waiting for callers and consistent service.

“This is a significant change. We’ve created a network of crisis lines so that anyone in the Interior Health region can call a single number and be referred to the nearest crisis line. If that line is busy, then they go to the next available crisis line — there is still someone right there to talk to them. In an emergency, the calls will go to 911. All the crisis line staff has the same training and all know about the resources in each community,” said Sharon Durant, community education and program support manager for the PIN (people in need) Crisis Line which is now operated in Vernon through CMHA.

Several areas in the interior, including Kamloops and Penticton, have not had local crisis lines for several years. This means that there was no immediate service for more than 200,000 people looking for resources and emotional support.

“We define crisis as a time when normal or usual coping skills are not working for a person. This can be a real continuum of concerns and issues. But you don’t have to be in severe crisis to ask for support. If people can get what they need as soon as possible, it can save getting to a crisis state,” said Durant.  “The network is working really well and we’re feeling really good about it. This is a good working group of partners.”

The new framework has created a need for more volunteers. For information about volunteer training in Vernon call 250-545-8074.

Existing crisis lines in Vernon, Kelowna, Williams Lake, Cranbrook and Trail worked with Interior Health for 18 months to create the new service.

The Interior Crisis Line Network has been available since Feb. 6. The line, at 1-888-353-2273 (CARE) is in operation all day, every day.