canada to adopt 988 line for mental health crises
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Canada to adopt 988 line for mental health crises

Canadians experiencing a mental health issue will soon have an easy-to-remember number to call and connect with a trained professional.

The number 9-8-8, which is already operational in the United States for easy access to mental health and suicide prevention resources, will be adopted across Canada by November 30, 2023, according to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

“The implementation of 9-8-8 as an easy-to-remember three-digit number will help reduce barriers to mental health and suicide prevention resources,” read the notice from the CRTC. “The number will enable greater access regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status as it will be available from coast to coast, 24-7 and free of charge. Furthermore, the ability to text to 9-8-8 will ensure that people in crisis who are unable to safely call, or prefer texting, are able to obtain counselling.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said an easy number like this had been in the works for some time.

“This number would be faster to dial, and would remove the challenge of looking up or remembering a ten or seven-digit number,” read a media release by PHAC. “It will provide people across Canada with a phone number that is simple to remember, even in a time of crisis, so that they can easily reach out for help.”

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will oversee the service delivery for the national three-digit number once it is operational.

According to the PHAC, suicide is a public health issue that does not discriminate based on age, race, or socioeconomic status. Roughly every two hours in Canada, a person succeeds in taking their own life.

While the 9-8-8 network is being set up over the next 15 months, Canadians experiencing a mental health crisis can get help through Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566. Texting is also available for adults at 741741, and youth at 686868.

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