Province Strengthening Mental Health Crisis Lines

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The Government of British Columbia announced on January 14 that it is improving supports to provide better crisis lines to British Columbians.

Planned enhancements to helplines include additional responders to increase the ability of the helpline to respond to calls, improved recruitment and retention strategies, improved and upgraded technology, and standardized training for responders of Appeal, a joint Department of Mental Health and Addictions and Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) press release explained.

The province has asked PHSA to oversee hotline services and contract directly with all hotline providers as part of the hotline improvement project.

“Unprecedented emergencies like flooding, the poison drug crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic mean that crisis lines are busier than ever,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I am grateful for the dedication and tireless work of the crisis line workers. Their efforts and commitment have saved lives. Our government is acting urgently to ensure that every call is answered and no one is left behind.

British Columbia’s Crisis Lines will continue to be available across the province. PHSA will work with health authority partners and hotline providers over the coming months to transition to a single service contract for each health authority.

The province is supporting this crisis line enhancement project with an additional $2.35 million annually for crisis lines, which nearly doubles the current investment in this essential service.

“The PHSA is proud to work with its partners at the Department of Mental Health and Addictions and the Department of Health, as well as the dedicated crisis line providers who have worked so hard under very difficult circumstances to improve British Columbia’s crisis line system. said Susan Wannamaker, executive vice president of clinical service delivery, PHSA. “Trustline services have never been more important, and thanks to this investment from the provincial government, we will soon be able to provide even better service to British Columbians.” »

More than $1.6 million in additional one-time funding has been provided to crisis centers since July 2020 to help crisis lines improve their calling capacity during the pandemic. The funds were mainly used to pay for additional answering machines, as well as technology upgrades to improve call answering services.

Provincial coordination of hotlines under the PHSA will take effect in the spring of 2022, and new contracts with service providers will be in place in the fall.

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