Battle River-Crowfoot MP Damien Kurek is imploring the federal government to keep its promise to implement a three-digit mental health crisis line and helping to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around mental health in a new mail out.
The implementation of the three-digit suicide prevention crisis hot line received unanimous support in the House of Commons in November 2020, but MP Kurek says in the over 600 days since he has not seen anything.
“It will be a good day for Canadians when the 9-8-8 hot line becomes reality,” MP Kurek told the Mail. “Until then, we need to get our existing resources out there.”
He says the mail out had a two-fold purpose.
The first is to bring awareness to the mental health crisis and breaking the stigma about reaching out for help and support, and to help bring an awareness to people in crisis that they are not alone.
“Folks are facing challenges right now, whether that is financial hardships, back to school,” Kurek says, adding it is important to get the message out there in as many ways as possible.
Along with the mail outs, Kurek has also taken to social media to continue the conversation on mental health and suicide prevention.
The second purpose is to bring more awareness to the 9-8-8 hot line.
In times of mental health crisis the hot line would work similar to 9-1-1; callers would be put through to a point of contact equipped to be a starting point to helping them get services and resources available.
“(9-8-8) is not meant to replace the existing hot lines (Canada Suicide Prevention Service and Kids Help Phone), but to make sure Canadians have better access, a starting point to see the services come together,” Kurek adds.
The hot line would also offer a text service for those who are uncomfortable or not able to speak over the phone.
“Parliament unilaterally says ‘We need to do this,’” Kurek adds. “When our country is so divided, we can agree on this, so let’s get it done.”
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail