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Distress Centre of Ottawa joins new mental health 9-8-8 network

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The main mental health crisis hotline for the city of Ottawa is partnering with the new nationwide, three digit suicide crisis helpline launched by the Government of Canada.

The Distress Centre of Ottawa, which has been providing suicide crisis services for over 50 years, says the new hotline is an important step in providing much needed mental health support across the country.

“This initiative led by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health and funded by the Government of Canada is a major step forward in providing much needed mental health supports in Canada," said Distress Centre of Ottawa board president Matt Triemstra in a news release.

"We are very pleased to be a partner in the 9-8-8 network to deliver this service to Ottawa and area residents.”

Canadians from coast-to-coast can now call or text 9-8-8 when in crisis, or when someone knows a person is in crisis and needs assistance.

Those needing mental health assistance can still call the Ottawa Distress Centre hotline or the new nationwide number.

Kathyrn Leroux, spokesperson for the Ottawa Distressed Centre, said she has been waiting a long time for 9-8-8 to be implemented.

"One of the wonderful things about this system is because it's a network, we're able to manage capacities a lot better," she said.

"Should we not have the capacity to handle a specific call, it will immediately roll over to an available responder in the next geographical area."

Approximately 12 people die by suicide each day across Canada, the Distress Centre of Ottawa said.

The centre answers over 55,000 calls a year for Ottawa and the region.

All responders are trained in suicide intervention and providing non-judgmental mental health support.

People experiencing a mental health crisis or worried about someone they know can call or text 9-8-8 toll-free, anytime for support in English or French. For more information, visit https://988.ca.

Residents can also call the distress centre at 613-238-3311.

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