We made 144,958 connections in 2022. We want to create a community where everyone is heard.
At Distress Centre Calgary, we are here for people going through some of the most difficult times in their lives. When someone is in crisis, considering suicide, or needs referral support, the staff and volunteers at Distress Centre are here to listen and help. And we’ve been here since 1970. Learn more about our impact in 2022.
crisis connections made.
Including 5,163 ConnecTeen contacts
Distress Centre provides 24 hour crisis support by phone, text and chat to Calgary and southern Alberta. Anyone can contact Distress Centre when they’re in crisis to speak with a highly trained responder, receive emotional support and feel heard.
Teens and youth contact, ConnecTeen, can speak with a youth around their own age during daily peer support hours.
of crisis contacts were suicide-related in 2022. That percentage increases to 48% when we look at only crisis chat and texts contacts.
emergency interventions, an increase of 18%.
of surveyed users would contact Distress Centre again if in crisis.
of surveyed users reported a stable or reduced level of distress at the end of their chat session.
of contacts initially assessed as high risk were stabilized.
of surveyed ConnecTeen users indicated that it’s important they speak to a youth.
The top caller issues on our crisis lines were: Anxiety, suicide ideation, depressed mood, family relationships, isolation/loneliness
Crisis Support Impact Stories
Crisis Support Impact Stories
“Josie” reached out to Distress Centre in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because she was struggling with thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
She expressed to the volunteer who answered that she had a life-long struggle with depression and anxiety and more recently, thoughts of suicide. The responder explored her safety and discovered that Josie had the means to harm herself. Josie responded well to the encouraging voice of the responder and agreed to remove the means of self-harm from the vicinity so she wouldn't be tempted.
The responder validated how hard things have been for Josie, identified the strength it took for her to reach out and helped her identify things that trigger thoughts of self-harm.
Today, it was a conversation with her Aunt who was abusive toward Josie in the past. The responder took the time to go through a plan for Josie’s safety for the night, which included doing some stretches, watching a movie, reaching out to a supportive friend in the morning and re-connecting with her therapist. The responder invited Josie to reach out to us again if she needed more support.
Crisis Support Impact Stories
“Meera” reached out to Distress Centre’s ConnecTeen text line before heading to school in the morning. She had been up all night and having thoughts of suicide since a breakup that happened a few weeks ago.
She expressed to the responder that her ex had already moved on to someone new and that made her feel unlovable. She had a plan and the means to attempt suicide. After speaking with the ConnecTeen responder, Meera agreed to put the means away so it wouldn’t be so accessible and her and Meera and the responder explored some of the things that keep her going every day. Meera identified some hobbies and friends she has, but most importantly she expressed how she wants to live for her cat. She said her cat knows when she is feeling sad and comes and sits on her lap when that happens.
Meera and the responder created a plan for her safety tonight and a safety follow-up was offered so that someone from Distress Centre would call her after school to check in and see how she is feeling. Meera said she felt much better after talking to someone and was looking forward to the follow-up call.
211 Calgary and Area
connections through 211.
We experienced an89%
increase compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. This includes all calls, chats and texts, as well as follow-up calls.
When someone needs help and doesn’t know where to turn, 211 connects them with the right service for their issue. Calls, texts and chats are answered 24/7 by professional 211 Community Resource Specialists who are trained to assess needs, refer the person to the most appropriate service and help them navigate the network of community, social, health and government services.
2022 was an exciting year for 211 in Calgary. Through the collaborative efforts of many existing and new partnerships, positive strides have been made to create a better response to mental health and addiction issues in our city.
Financial assistance remains a top issue for 211 contacts in 2022, but we also saw a 50% increase in mental health and substance-abuse related contacts.
In 2022, a total of 1927 calls were connected to 211 via the 911/non-emergency line.
Since its launch on August 2, 2022, the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) team was successfully dispatched 1663 times in 2022, from both calls diverted from 911 and directly from the community.
of surveyed users reported learning how to access community resources that meet their needs.
of surveyed users reported they are likely to contact 211 again if needed.
Distress Centre’s Community Resource Database team validated 3,314 resources in 2022, ensuring that updated and accurate information is available in the Inform Alberta database.
211 Content Impact Stories
911/211 Co-Location Impact Story
A call to 911 came from the friend of a man who was going through a mental health and addiction crisis. The man was depressed and felt he had no one in the world to support him. The call was determined to be non-emergent by 911 and transferred to a 211 Community Resource Specialist co-located on-site. The Specialist explored which resources Chen had already tried and offered him alternative resources. The caller was provided with information about a food hamper as well as a resource for financial assistance and income support.
Financial Resources - 211 Impact Story
“Chen” phoned 211 looking for financial resources as well as food support. The caller mentioned he had tried some food resources already, however none were currently able to help him out as there were waitlists and he was running very low on food. The call taker was able to connect the man to mental health resources for emotional support and for connection to the Mobile Response Team – an Alberta Health Services program that offers urgent mental health support or consultations in crisis situations.
A few days later, a Community Resource Specialist was able to connect with Chen for a previously agreed on follow-up call to discuss the outcome of the resources provided. Chen shared that he was able to get food support and was happy with the support he’d received from 211. The caller had not yet reached out for financial assistance and the Specialist coached him on how to access that service. Chen thanked the Specialist and said he would call back if he required resources in the future.
Mental Health - 211 Impact Story
“Sarah” phoned 211 because she wanted to access mental health resources and talk to a mental health care professional. She shared that her mental health has been declining recently and she has been trying to figure out her next steps but is unsure where to turn.The Specialist risk assessed and found that Sarah had struggled with suicidal ideation in the past. The Specialist explored which mental health support options would work best for Sarah and referred her to community and government counselling services. The Specialist then coached her on how to access these resources. Sarah was also referred to Distress Centre’s crisis services for immediate emotional support. Additionally, the Specialist created a safety plan with Sarah for her to activate when she experiences suicidal thoughts.
Sarah expressed her gratitude for the support and resources provided and said that she would call back into 211 if needed.
contact centre and remote volunteer hours in 2022.
414 total crisis and online services volunteers and 40 ConnecTeen volunteers in 2022.
80% of surveyed volunteers report using their skills outside Distress Centre.
80.1% of Distress Centre’s hours of service were covered by volunteers.
“Volunteering is one of the best experiences of my life.”
“I don't really look at it as in: ‘what I do for Distress Centre?’ because I feel it's a well-balanced give and take. I give my time on the lines, but Distress Centre has given me the opportunity to grow myself and increase my sense of self-worth, while also helping others do the same.”
“I have been on so many chats where at the very end of the chat they'll be like, 'hey, you know what? Thank you so much. You genuinely saved my life' or you 'really kept me safe during this conversation.’ In those instances you feel like, 'wow, I made a difference in this person's life.'"
To help with more complex issues, our professional crisis counsellors provide free short-term counselling for individuals, couples and families at Distress Centre.
In 2022, after providing counselling by phone and video only for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we brought back in-person sessions. Providing multiple ways to receive counselling makes the service as accessible as possible.
total counselling contacts
average number of new counselling intakes per month
of surveyed clients reported they were better able to cope at the end of counselling
of surveyed clients reported that they were better able to cope with their circumstances and issues 60–90 days post counselling
Counselling Impact Story
“Jane,” a woman in her 50s, attended her first session by phone in early January. She described living independently in the basement of her 30-year-old son’s house, helping to pay for rent, groceries, and household bills. Jane related that she had lost her job a few months ago, and had been actively looking for another job, and had been living on employment insurance. Jane shared that she had been a single parent since the children’s father left the family just after the youngest child was born. She described feeling guilty that she had not been able to provide the life her children deserved and she felt ashamed that she was depending on her youngest son now for his support.
At their initial meeting, Jane and her counsellor collaborated to identify some goals for change and an action plan for them. One goal was to help her create a budget to establish a clear picture of what their monthly priorities needed to be. Another goal was to help her to become less critical of herself and her efforts. During five subsequent sessions Jane was encouraged to review her accomplishments to help her to realize just how much she had done for her family and help her recognize how strong, resilient, and resourceful she had been.
unique individuals and families, providing 20,806 unique services in 2022.
Distress Centre’s programs at SORCe:
- Coordinated Access and Assessment: Housing Strategists provide connection to the supportive housing system in Calgary, System Navigators & Resource Specialists provide in-person information & referral supports.
- Community Supports: ID Replacement, Crisis Mental Health & Client Advocate, Housing Location, Diversion Housing, and Safeworks–Harm Reduction Satellite Site, Basic Needs program.
- Financial Empowerment: Provides taxation & benefits support, financial coaching and pensions over 65.
- Winter Response: Opened and launched the Housing & Communication Hub, providing access to communication tools and staff support for goal oriented housing plans supporting applications to treatment, affordable housing, employment searches, connection to natural supports.
housing assessments or updates, and 9,791 housing check-ins.
community partners were supported with training to become Housing Strategists, increasing overall coverage in Calgary.
in taxation & benefits were received by Financial Empowerment program participants.
Sorce Impact Stories
SORCe Impact Stories
“Kim,” a woman in her 60s had experienced domestic abuse in her twenties and changed her name after the incident to protect her safety. The experience of those traumatic incidents, combined with a brain injury made it difficult to prove her identity with Canada Revenue Agency.
Realizing this challenge would mean she could not file her taxes, which would jeopardize her pension benefits that she would soon be eligible for, she contacted the Financial Empowerment Coach at SORCe for support. She initially tried to contact CRA multiple times over the phone, but CRA was not satisfied with her proof of identity. With the support of the Financial Empowerment coach, she wrote a letter to CRA explaining the situation in January 2022 and finally got a reply in November 2022. At this time the Financial Empowerment Coach was able to help her file her taxes for the last 10 years and support the process to change her name with CRA. Kim received over $8000 by filing her taxes and she will be able to process her pension benefits.
SORCe Impact Stories
“Mark” visited SORCe three times in July to use the Housing & Communications Hub. Mark had a long history with the criminal justice system, experienced multiple and lengthy periods of homelessness, and was currently recovering from a brain injury resulting from a severe assault earlier in the year. Mark had to flee his previous home as a result of the risk of further assault.
Distress Centre team members worked with Mark to assist him with:
- Re-initiating AISH·Securing temporary accommodation
- Access to his personal identification (from his previous home)
- Emergency food support
The team assisted Mark in relocating to another city where he had access to accommodation and support through the community. He left for his new home at the end of July.
Basic Needs Fund
We provided assistance to328
clients in 2022.
The Basic Needs Fund distributed $290,850 to individuals and families who needed one-time financial assistance.
Partner Agencies Support
contacts were answered in collaboration with our partner agencies.
This includes contacts we answered on behalf of Talk Suicide, SeniorConnect, The Way In, Bullying Helpline, Family Violence Information Line and Abuse Helpline.
In our society, people talk about mental health more than ever. But suicide is often kept quiet. And it’s costing lives. We’re asking you to start these conversations in your life – and support the growing need for our services. Together, we can provide hope for anyone who is facing crisis.Donate Now