Mental-health crisis line launched for children and youth

Big thanks to Tyler Kula from The Sarnia Observer for sharing about the Child & Youth Crisis Line.

Read the article below or head to to read the article on their site.

For years, St. Clair Child and Youth Services has been trying to establish a mental-health crisis line for youngsters and their families, the agency’s executive director says.

“But we’ve had funding shortfalls and haven’t been able to get it off the ground,” said Sue Barnes

Thanks to a $75,000 Trillium Foundation grant to the Family Counselling Centre, the 1-833-622-1320 line staffed by trained volunteers who assess the situation, talk with and then refer people in need to other community supports launched Wednesday.

“No crisis is too big or too small,” Barnes said. “If somebody is struggling with parenting, if somebody at the time is struggling with their child’s behaviour, if their child or youth is struggling with anxiety or depression and parents don’t know what to do, give the line a call.”

About 45 volunteers with the Children’s Aid Society and St. Clair Child and Youth training staff the line, said Hani Dajani, executive director with the Family Counselling Centre.

A similar distress line through the centre for adults saw about double the call volume last year as it did in 2019 – about 2,700 versus 1,480, he said.

“Everybody is suffering somehow from the pandemic, and one of the sectors that is least spoken of is child and youth,” he said.

The partnership with St. Clair Child and Youth is a way to try and fill that void, he said.

“For people to vent, to share voice, to share any concern.”

Expertise is also drawn from more than 10 years of running the distress line for people 18 and older, he said.

“It’s a completely separate crisis line that is exclusive for children and youth to call in.”

It’s hoped having the number available will limit how often families, unsure of what to do, have to wait in hospital, said Barnes.

“It bogs up the emergency department,” she said. “By the time they get seen, the crisis might not meet the threshold for admission and they’ll get referred to our agency anyway. So we’re hoping this line will help divert children and youth from the emergency department that don’t necessarily need to be there.”

It’s different from Kids Help Phone in that its not anonymous and also connects callers with local services, she said.

“We’re hoping we’ll find the funding to continue it on.”

The grant money is for 12 months, Dajani said, noting within a day of launching the number had already received a half-dozen calls.

“We are hoping we can provide this on a long-term basis.”

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