Prairie Post (West Edition) : 2021-02-12

Opinion : 7 : 7

Opinion

Friday, February 12, 2021 7 - Prairie Post West - Collaborat­ion brings together existing suicide prevention services and advocates for a national, three-digit phone number Now more than ever, people in need of immediate mental health support are turning to distress centres for help. People living in Canada need an easy way to ask for assistance during their time of greatest need. That is why the Public Health Agency of Canada is providing $21 million over five years to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to implement and sustain a fully operationa­l pan-Canadian suicide prevention service in partnershi­p with the Canadian Mental Health Associatio­n (CMHA) and Crisis Services Canada (CSC). This service will provide people across Canada with expanded access to 24/7/365 bilingual crisis support from trained responders, via voice, text and online chat. In January, CAMH, CMHA, and CSC jointly wrote to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommun­ications Commission (CRTC) to strongly advocate for the implementa­tion of a three-digit suicide prevention number connected to the expanding Canada Suicide Prevention Service network. They argue that it will provide superior access to timely support with an easy to dial number in a crisis situation, allowing greater access to trained responders and ultimately support a centralize­d entry point to other mental health programs, as part of a more comprehens­ive, integrated approach to mental health care. “In a crisis, looking for a 10-digit number is a barrier to care—a barrier that doesn’t need to exist,” said Dr. Allison Crawford, Chief Medical Officer, Canada Suicide Prevention Service. “Calling an easily accessible suicide prevention line is an evidence-based way to keep people safe in the moment and come up with a plan to access mental health resources or other supports. We are committed to working with the CRTC to improve supports for Canadians in need.” The work to expand a pan-Canadian suicide prevention service will build upon existing community-based local suicide prevention services and a 2017 pilot of a national service. Key initiative­s over the next five years include: t %FWFMPQJOH WJSUVBM USBJOJOH BOE FEVcation to support responders, promoting the delivery of high quality, evidence-based, equitable suicide prevention services to people living in Canada. t &OHBHJOH BEEJUJPOBM $BOBEJBO EJTUSFTT centres in the existing Canada Suicide Prevention Service to expand the network. t %FWFMPQJOH UIF åSTU $BOBEJBO TUBOEBSET for suicide prevention services. t &TUBCMJTIJO­H BO BEWJTPSZ DPNNJUUFF with diverse stakeholde­rs, including people with lived experience in suicide prevention efforts. “CAMH is proud to partner with CMHA and Crisis Services Canada on this important national service,” said Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO at CAMH, the lead organizati­on for this initiative. “We know that communitie­s across Canada are engaged in suicide prevention efforts that recognize their unique strengths and needs. Our organizati­ons will build on these community-based efforts to ensure that all people living in Canada are able to access crisis support services when they need them.” “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults in Canada. This is a serious public health issue in Canada, and we need a coordinate­d, national response to address it. No one should have to suffer alone. Through this partnershi­p, we will be there to help Canadians get the support they need in times of crisis,” said The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health. “CMHA is pleased to partner with CAMH and CSC to expand crisis services in Canada. We know that despair and suicidal feelings are deepening as the pandemic wears on, and people need somewhere to turn. Working together, we are ensuring that everyone across the country has access to help when they need it most,” said Margaret Eaton, National CEO of CMHA. Quick Facts t 4VJDJEF FOET UIF MJWFT PG $BOBdians every year—nearly 11 people per day. t *G ZPV BSF FYQFSJFODJ­OH UIPVHIUT PG suicide, you are deserving of help and can call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service 24/7/365 at 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 between 4:00 p.m. and midnight EST. If you require immediate, in-person emergency care, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency department. t "DDPSEJOH UP TUBUJTUJDT GSPN $4$ DBMMT to the Canada Suicide Prevention Service more than doubled in December 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. In December 2020, 20% of all callers expressed concern about COVID-19. t " OFX FEJUPSJBM JO UIF $BOBEJBO +PVSOBM of Psychiatry argues that suicide crisis services are an evidence-based, cost-effective component of suicide prevention. t 5IF $35$ JT SFTQPOTJCM­F GPS OVNCFSJOH administra­tion in Canada, which includes establishi­ng any three digit abbreviate­d codes. CAMH is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy developmen­t and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organizati­on/World Health Organizati­on Collaborat­ing Centre. For more informatio­n, please visit www.camh.ca. Crisis Services Canada (CSC) is a pre-eminent voice and leader in promoting a comprehens­ive and integrated community-based helpline sector in Canada. In 2017, CSC launched the Canada Suicide Prevention Service and now delivers that service in partnershi­p with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Canadian Mental Health Associatio­n. For more informatio­n, please visit www.crisisserv­icescanada.ca. Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Associatio­n (CMHA) is the most establishe­d, most extensive community mental health organizati­on in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communitie­s across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive. CONTRIBUTE­D For more informatio­n, please visit www.cmha.ca.