Thursday, February 7, 2013

Letter Response

Back in January, we came across a "Letter to Editor" in a local Ottawa newspaper. 

"Talk mental health

Why in 2013 is it still acceptable to openly discuss cancer, stroke, and heart failure, and not mental health?

The mental health crisis line is 613-722-6914. Yet one has to wonder what happens when that number is dialed. Will you immediately speak to a professional? Will you be put on hold or told someone will call you back shortly? Will you be forwarded to a message machine? Is the call confidential? If you’re a parent, will five cop cars and someone from Children’s Aid arrive at the door while you’re on the line? How many then, would make that call with so many unanswered questions?

We hear very little about mental health, no one canvassing at the door, no big gift lotteries offering houses and cars, and I don’t think many are running or biking for it.

So we hear and say very little about mental health, leaving some, perhaps many, to struggle in silence, fearful of being judged."
We wanted to respond to the writer, as she asked many questions that needed an answer.  While our response wasn't published, it's important for those who have similar questions to see the answers.

This is our response!


Why don’t we speak more openly about mental health? It affects each and every one of us in one way or another, sometimes without realizing it.

When someone makes the decision to call the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region or the Mental Health Crisis Line, they’ve taken the initiative to talk about the issues they are facing. When the number is dialed, you are reaching one of our volunteer Crisis Line Specialists. Each of these individuals has undergone 59 hours of extensive training, including the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshop so that we are prepared to provide support to anyone calling in, no matter what the problem, at any time of day or night.

While the vast majority of calls are answered immediately, it’s possible that if we’re experiencing a high volume of calls, that you may be put into queue, to wait for one of our Crisis Line Specialists to finish supporting another caller. If you are placed in our queue, you’ll hear the message letting you know that we’ll answer your call as quickly as we can. You can be assured that every single call that comes into the Distress Centre & the MHCL is completely confidential and information is not shared outside of the centre, however; if there is an immediate danger to yourself, another person or a child, this will fall under our obligation to involve emergency services. We are here to provide unbiased, non-judgmental support to anyone in need of help, including those dealing with relationship issues, finances, mental & physical illnesses, employment concerns, local resources, sexuality & interpersonal issues and suicide ideations, and much more. Remember - anything that is affecting your day to day coping skills, is a reason to call.

As much as the society is starting to open up and talk about mental health, there is still room for improvement, and we are working hard to get people talking - talking to us, talking to family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. In fact, the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region is participating in the Ottawa Race Weekend, and invites others to raise funds and awareness for our Crisis Lines. There is also an annual fundraising event called “A Chocolate Affair” on May 2nd, to do the same thing.

We invite everyone to learn more about the Mental Health Crisis Line at and the Distress Centre at    If you need someone to talk to, you can call 613-238-3311 (Distress Centre) 613-722-6914 in Ottawa, 1-866-996-0991 (MHCL) outside of Ottawa. We’re here for you, no matter what.


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