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Crisis Line Awareness Week March 24-31 2024

Interior, BC—Every 26 minutes, someone in the Interior receives the support they need. Just by calling the Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN), people’s lives are saved and changed. The invisible safety net is there when it is needed.

During Crisis Line Awareness Week (March 24-31), we acknowledge the vital role crisis lines play across British Columbia. Interior Crisis Line Responders, a collaboration of five community-based organizations across Cranbrook, Trail, Kelowna, Vernon, and Williams Lake, handled close to 20,000 calls last year alone, underscoring the crucial role that localized support plays in rural communities. Sheila Dudek, Supervisor of the Trail site (Trail FAIR Society) speaks to this, “we understand the unique challenges and resources available in the Interior because our volunteers and staff live in these communities.” ICLN’s dedicated efforts, span across three services including regional and provincial crisis lines, providing over 300,000 minutes of empathetic support, empowering crisis de-escalation, and critical interventions in 2023.

As Shae-Lynn Sloan, Supervisor of the ICLN site in Kelowna (KCR Community Resources) adds, “our expertise and regional knowledge are at the heart of the quality of service we provide. No matter where you are in the Interior, if you have access to a phone, you have access to support 24/7 through our locally based crisis line responders.”

These responders, consisting of both volunteers and staff, are deeply committed to offering compassionate assistance to individuals in need, regardless of the challenges they face. “We are proud of the commitment of our team – staff and volunteers; they provide much-needed caring support for the people who reach out to us,” explains Shirley MacKinnon, Interior Crisis Line Network Program Manager. To honor the incredible work that Crisis Line Responders do, the network places a high priority on the well-being of its staff and volunteers. According to Program Manager Shirley MacKinnon, before responding to calls, all Crisis Line Responders undergo over 60 hours of comprehensive training and mentoring. This training covers a range of topics, including the impact of trauma, stress management, self-care strategies, understanding the mental health continuum, conducting suicide risk assessments, and employing evidence-based de-escalation and assessment methods. Sites are equipped to support responders through regular debriefing and ongoing education.

Above all else, ICLN prides itself on being a community safety net whenever people need to hear a warm voice on the other end of the line. Natalie Hake, Director for Public Education and Crisis Services at the Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kootenays, highlights “that at the end of the day, crisis line work is about meeting people where they are at and providing genuine human connection.” Due to the geographical location of the 5 partner sites, the ICLN teams are ready to pivot to the needs of their communities in the face of natural disaster or extreme weather conditions. “Having experienced the urgency of evacuating during a wildfire and the challenges of supporting our community through extreme heat or cold, we understand firsthand the importance of preparedness, resilience, and compassionate response in times of crisis,” shares Evan Pantanetti, Coordinator of the ICLN Williams Lake site (Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch). 

The Interior Crisis Line Network stands as a beacon of support, offering immediate phone-based assistance around the clock for individuals navigating crisis, seeking resources, or managing their mental health. The ICLN is devoted to the communities they serve, committed to answering every call with compassion and dedication.

Interior Crisis Line Network can be reached by phone at 1.888.353.2273(CARE), 24/7/365. It is a network made up of the five local crisis lines in the Interior Region and is funded by the Provincial Health Services Authority. Interested in volunteering, go to to sign up and learn more.

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