On Wednesday, November 28, volunteers from the 24/7 Support Line enjoyed a brief ceremony to celebrate the 2-year anniversary of the service. What began on November 30, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. with a documented 36 calls that evening has blossomed into an incredibly robust service that has reached thousands of individuals. Since that first evening, we have received over 43,000 calls that have been answered by our trained volunteers. Other notable items of interest from call stats include:
- 42 calls to Emergency Services
- 282 warm transfers to Reach Out
- 471 transfers to Crisis staff
- Average call length 12.5 minute
- Over 79% of callers were satisfied with our services
- 77% of callers felt the call increased their ability to cope
While these numbers are incredibly high, what is most notable is that 163 volunteers who participate with the service, as well as 13 student placement internships have responded to the calls. We recognize that we are very fortunate in our community to be able to engage so many dedicated and compassionate citizens who wish to make a difference in their community and have a positive impact on mental health. We are also very proud of the relationships that we have built over the past two years with our school community partners. Since the launch in 2016, we have created placements for students at Fanshawe, TriOs College and Westervelt. It is an honour for us to have an effect in the education of those enrolled in programs that support helping professions, and to help train our community’s future mental health champions.
The event was particularly special for us as it presented an opportunity to recognize volunteers. Our diverse and knowledgeable volunteer group– currently at 163 volunteers and growing – is a genuine asset not only to CMHA Middlesex, but also to the community that we serve. After completing a thorough initial screening process, volunteers participate in extensive training that includes recognized training programs such as SafeTALK so that they can effectively respond to individuals who may be approaching a crisis situation. This is offered in addition to our own in-house developed training modules, shadowing with a mentor as well as Mental Health First Aid.
Since launching the service, we have assembled a Peer Mentor team, which currently consists of 10 Support Line volunteers who enable the opportunity both for shadowing as well as enriched, ongoing training opportunities. This team was recognized by the organization with a recently submitted nomination for the June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism, which is a provincial recognition award that is offered through the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Every year, the awards acknowledge individual volunteers, as well as volunteer groups, who are making an outstanding contribution in the communities they serve. We wish to express our gratitude to Ha Yun, Leona, Matt, Rachel, Jennifer, Sam, Alex, Mike, Zi Yi and Meagan for all that you do.
It was also a distinct pleasure to recognize John, who has been volunteering with the service since the very beginning. John was recognized with our newly founded, “Spirit of the Support Line” award, as an expression of our thanks for his welcoming approach, motivation and kindness. We were also proud to recognize Meagan, for her remarkable contribution of over 650 hours (and counting!) as well as Sara, who was recognized with an “Outstanding Leadership” award. Although it is important to track our progress through call documentation and maintenance of stats, it is especially rewarding to see growth by bearing witness to the increased capacities for leadership and community service that is endless from all of our volunteers.
We have much to look forward to in the future as the service continues to grow as even more members of the public access the service, and engage in a volunteer capacity. Coming up in 2019 is the addition of a new phone system and the iCarol software updates – both of which will improve access and communication.
CMHA Middlesex wishes to express a very sincere thanks to our volunteers, as well as the United Way of Elgin Middlesex for their support of this valuable service.