Crisis hotline staff say they’re unable to answer 2,000 calls annually, calling for donations

Chimo Helpline staff said they missed over 2000 calls last year.
Chimo Helpline staff said they missed over 2000 calls last year. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Staff at New Brunswick’s only 24/7 crisis hotline say they’re unable to answer 2,000 calls per year, and are asking for the public’s help to reduce that number.

Chimo Helpline development coordinator Jonathan Richardson said the number of people whose calls go unanswered is too high.

“It’s a big problem for me personally. I would prefer us to not be [missing any calls].   That’s 13 per cent of our calls,” Richardson said.   “That’s more than one-in-ten people that aren’t getting through.”

He said he finds it “unacceptable” and said the organization has launched a new campaign called “Help us #AnswerTheCall” to diversify funding.  He said the goal is to reduce missed calls to less than one per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

Richardson told Global News 88 per cent of funding currently comes from the provincial government.

READ MORE: The pressure on men to be providers is one reason they have much higher suicide rates

He said he started with the help line June 21 and immediately wanted to launch a campaign to raise money from individuals, corporate donors and service groups.

Interveners answer calls and go through a wide array of training.  Richardson said that while transferring calls quickly is important, so is ensuring calls are handled thoroughly and that no disservice is done to those already engaged in calls with interveners.

Richardson said the top three issues that come up during calls are loneliness, mental illness-related concerns and suicide.

In an e-mail statement from the New Brunswick Department of Social Development, spokesperson Anne Mooers said the department  provides a grant that averages around $135,000 per year to the CHIMO crisis hotline.

Mooers said the department “applauds the important work of this organization.”

READ MORE: South Okanagan mother sounds alarm over suicide prevention phone line delays

“As the province’s only 24/7 crisis and suicide prevention help line we would encourage community partnerships thus enabling CHIMO to assist New Brunswick’s most vulnerable and ensure no call goes unanswered,” Mooers said.

Story continues below advertisement

Staff from the Department of Health also confirm they currently provide funding to CHIMO as well through an annual grant that helps fund the help line, promotional services and materials and bi-annual reports.

Sponsored content