Chat/text with Crisis Line

The Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN) launched a pilot chat and text service on May 17 "to do more to make life-saving and life-changing support accessible in the Interior," the organization announced in a release.

The pilot program will be available Thursday through to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"The world is changing and the way people are reaching out for support is changing too,” said Alyssa Christmas, Manager of Mental Health Promotion and Education, with CMHA Vernon and District Branch (CMHA), one of the partner agencies within the Interior Crisis Line Network. 

“Chat and text can be a powerful way to make crisis line services more accessible and responsive to the communities we serve,” she said.

The ICLN is an innovative network of five community agencies in Cranbrook, Kelowna, Trail, Vernon and Williams Lake. They work collaboratively to meet provincial standards and provide community-delivered short-term emotional support, skilled assessment, crisis de-escalation and intervention 24/7/365 to people across the region. 

For Julia Payson, Executive Director of the CMHA-Vernon and District, the chat and text pilot is a necessary next step.

“Our commitment to our community requires us to make crisis line support more accessible. Each year there are heart-breaking stories of why this is important. However, there are inspiring ones as well. We know that speaking to a crisis line worker can be the difference in connecting to critical services and finding hope again. By offering chat and text, we’re making this even more accessible,” Payson said.

Like the crisis line, chat and text is primarily delivered by volunteers, so additional training is being provided and there is a volunteer recruitment drive to encourage others who desire to make a difference to come forward.  

“We are so fortunate to have amazing volunteers and staff committed to the crisis line service and willing to step forward in providing chat and text.” says Paula Guidi, Crisis Line Program Coordinator, “And we’re hoping it will inspire people to reach out for support who perhaps haven’t in the past as well as inspiring others to come forward as volunteers.”

They can access it via the ICLN website, www.interiorcrisisline.com. People can reach out for emotional support, ask about resources, explore coping strategies and connect to a trained and caring volunteer. Depending on the number of people reaching out at a given time, there may be waits.  

People interested in volunteering are encouraged to call 250-542-3114, ext. 232, to learn about the screening and training process. 

The chat and text pilot will not change the crisis line phone-based service and people will still be able to access support 24/7/365 through 1-888-353-CARE.

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