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What is Crisis Care?

What is Crisis Care and When Should I Access It?

Crisis care is provided by registered professional counsellors or trained volunteers depending on the service. The goal of crisis care is to provide immediate support for anyone who is experiencing overwhelming emotions, mental health concerns, difficult life experiences, thoughts of harm to self or others, or who needs support coping in the moment. Crisis care is usually provided on a drop-in or call-in basis. 
If you are feeling overwhelmed, alone, afraid, need someone to talk to about how you are feeling anytime of the day or night, or if you have specific concerns relating to mental health or safety, accessing crisis care can help. You can also call a crisis line if you are looking for mental health information and resources, or if you are concerned about someone else and need advice for how to refer them to mental health care.

What to Expect When Calling a Helpline

Every helpline is different. If you would like to know what to expect when calling a specific service, you can call and ask them for more information about their services and any questions you have before speaking with a counsellor or trained volunteer. 

A counsellor/trained volunteer may pick up the phone directly, or you might speak with an intake coordinator before you are put through to a counsellor. If you are unsure of who you are speaking with, you can say: "Can I please speak with a counsellor?" or "Am I speaking with a counsellor?"

It depends on the service. It is always okay to ask for this information so you have a better understanding of the type of support being provided.

 The person you are speaking with may ask you to provide your name, address, phone number, birthdate, and other identifying information. Some helplines require this information to provide service, other helplines allow you to choose what information you provide and stay anonymous if you wish, and some helplines do not ask for identifying information upfront. If you do not want to provide identifying information, you can ask if it is possible to stay anonymous. If it is not possible for that particular service, the person you are speaking with should provide you with the number of another helpline where anonymity is possible. If they don't offer this automatically, it's always appropriate for you to ask for a referral to an anonymous service.

 Some possibilities include:

  • Standardized questions about safety that they ask all callers (e.g., "over the past week, have you experienced thoughts of suicide?"). 
  • An intake worker might also ask you to share your reasons for calling in before you speak with a counsellor. 

In many cases, you will be able to speak with a counsellor/trained volunteer right away or within a few minutes. However, during busy call times you may experience a longer wait. If a counsellor/trained volunteer isn't available due to high call volume, you may be placed in queue, asked to call back, or asked to provide permission for them to call you back. During the busiest times for some helplines, waits can be more than an hour. If you need to talk to someone right away, please reach out to other helplines until you find the care that you need.

The person you are speaking with may automatically communicate policies around confidentiality and service use. If they don't, you can always request this information. If you ever feel unsure about how the service works or the procedures you are encountering when you call, it's okay to ask for clarification or additional information about what you can expect before you proceed.

Just as with phone-based helplines, text-based helplines also have their own processes for how they operate. To learn more about what to expect when reaching out to Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone (686868), click here.