Crisis Community Engagement

The Cause

Distress Centre Calgary (DCC) has provided 24 hour crisis support in Calgary and southern Alberta since 1970. We do this through our 24 hour crisis line, email, daily chat, and daily text for our youth. We also have professional counselling for clients with issues that cannot be resolved over the phone. If you need help finding a social, community or government service, 211 is available by phone and online chat. Our Coordinated Access and Assessment (CAA) program serves Calgarians experiencing homelessness out of the Safe Communities Opportunity and Resource Centre (SORCe). All of our services are FREE.

We do not define crisis. We do not judge. Anyone can call us day or night.

Mission: Provide compassionate, accessible crisis support that enhances the health, well-being and resiliency of individuals in distress.

Vision: Everyone is heard.

Values: Accessibility, Collaboration, Compassion, Excellence, Inclusivity, Innovation, Leadership, Partnerships, Respect, Volunteerism

- Over the past several years we have experienced exponential growth of email, chat & text services. so we need to be constantly training more volunteers to manage the increased demand and the increase in "at risk" (suicide related) online contacts.The recruitment, training, and retention of volunteers requires significant investment of human and financial resources. Due to the "high-risk" nature of many of the contacts, it is imperative that we ensure that our volunteers are properly screened and receive extensive training and mentoring, so they are positioned to provide the best possible crisis support to their peers in the Calgary community.

- Since COVID-19, we had to remote all our services to maintain business continuity with no down time so people could access our 24/7 crisis services. We have been operating utilizing mostly staff 24/7 than our usual crisis volunteers, and it has been costly for our organization. Our contact centre team is working hard at re-engaging the crisis volunteers that have not been utilized since COVID-19 in March. We are currently recruiting more volunteers from new sources and methods to get our volunteer pool up to around 250 volunteers. We have lost over well over 20% of our volunteers, which is critical to our agency. In 2019, we clocked 46,763 crisis centre volunteer hours, so you can see the importance of our volunteers.

Who Will it Benefit?

- In 2019 from donations such as what Field Law can provide, has helped our highly-trained volunteers and professional staff make 133,834 connections including 74,359 crisis contacts through phone, email, chat, text, and counselling.
- Our crisis services are for anyone so Everyone is heard. Our crisis services support youth right up to the elderly, and everything in between.
- Now more than ever Distress Centre's innovative services are needed in the Calgary community.
- We have a 117% increase in counselling intakes from 2018.
- We experienced a 155% increase in calls answered on behalf of the 24/7 Canada Suicide Prevention Service Line.
- We had a 17% increase in funds disbursed through our Basic Need Fund to help individuals and families who would otherwise be homeless or without critical utilities.
- We received more suicide-related contacts than ever: were with people on the brink of an irreversible decision (10% of calls; 17.3% of online chats; 37% of text conversations with youth.
- Since COVID-19, we have experienced a 24.2% increase in 211 contacts compared to the same time period as last year. In July 2020, we have had a 99.8% increase compared to the same time as July 2019. The top issues on all crisis contracts are anxiety, depressed mood and family relationships.
- Suicide related contacts are up 17.3% compared to the same time period as 2019 during COVID-19.

- The entire community benefits: the individuals and families in the community who contact us; the volunteers trained to help those in need who give back their time to the community; the community who benefits from our crisis services through a community of care.