For 50 years, Distress Centres has provided 24-hour telephone support, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are the point of first access for community individuals in crisis requiring emotional first aid.
Our organization has become the oldest and largest front-line volunteer delivered crisis, emotional support and suicide prevention service agency in Canada. Distress Centres offers an around-the-clock response to those experiencing emotional distress or are in need of crisis intervention and/or suicide prevention. We also provide face-to-face support and counselling to people dealing with the effects of suicide and homicide.
Distress Centres continues to expand, and our call volume increases each year. As the home to the only 24-Hour Distress Line in Toronto, Distress Centres now answers more than 82,000+ calls annually to our 408-HELP line. Our team consists of 550+ highly trained volunteers at three locations (Downtown, North York and Scarborough).
PROGRAMS & SERVICES
408 HELP Line (416-408-4357)
Caller Reassurance Program
Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Program
Survivor of Homicide Loss Support Program
ONTX Chat/Text Support Program
EMS Warm Transfer Line
- Community Outreach & Education
We foster hope and resilience one connection at a time.
To ensure that every individual in need receives life-sustaining emotional support.
Provide crisis response and intervention to the emotionally vulnerable and at risk in our community.
- Serve as a point of access for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.
- Provide volunteer-delivered services, wherever possible, in recognition of the added value they contribute.
- Collaborate and network with other agencies to create a continuum of care and support.
- Provide links to emergency services when necessary.
- Mitigate the impact of a mental health crisis by helping those with a history of vulnerability and risk make life-affirming choices.
- Increase service access by operating within a framework of cultural competency, including the promotion of diversity in all areas of service.
- Enhance emotional self-management and reduce risk by strengthening the coping skills of survivors.
- Advocate on behalf of service users by reporting on current needs, gaps in service and emerging trends.
- Build community capacity in emotional health response.
HISTORY OF COLLABORATION
Distress Centres supports province-wide initiatives and development of distress and crisis line services Provides support and consultation to the provincial association of distress centres. We are a member of Distress and Crisis Ontario (formerly Distress Centres of Ontario).
Throughout its long history as Toronto’s emotional safety net, the agency has also assisted in the establishment of essential local, provincial and national organizations promoting suicide and violence prevention and mental health support:
1971 - Distress Centres Ontario
1972 - The Metro and Area Distress Centres
1977 - The Canadian Council of Crisis Centres
1982 - The Toronto Council on Suicide Prevention
1984 - The Canadian Association on Suicide Prevention
1985 - The Assaulted Women’s Helpline
1991 - Drug Helpline Project (Ontario-wide)
2000 – merger of Distress Centres under one number: 416-408-HELP 2001 – developed 24-hour helpline with PARO for members of the medical profession and their families
2005 – Survivor Support Program expanded to include homicide support
2005 – Integration of Etobicoke Telecare and relocation of merged operations in North York
2006 – Partnered with City of Toronto and Emergency Medical Services to create warm transfer line for high-risk calls
2008 – partnered with Toronto Public Health and their Psycho-Social Emergency Response and Recovery Services
2008 – Launch of Caller Reassurance Program
2011 – Partnered with TTC and Bell to develop Crisis Link, a dedicated direct line to Distress Centres located on each subway platform
2012 – Caller Reassurance Program for Seniors launched
2012 - Launched the City's first Community-Based Suicide Prevention Centre and E-Library
2015 - Partnered with Distress Centres Ontario, Distress Centres Durham, SPECTRA, and Community Torchlight to launch Ontario's Online and Text Crisis and Distress Service (ONTX).
2017 - In partnership with business and Distress Centres from across Canada, Distress Centres was instrumental in launching Crisis Services Canada, and their National Canadian Suicide Prevention Service in November 2017. A milestone for Canada that sees all of the people of Canada having access to immediate suicide and crisis support.