It’s estimated one in every three people will have a mental health crisis in their lifetime and Saskatoon Mobile Crisis Centre is there to help.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – the support service is there to listen to those in need and is now giving the public a rare glimpse into what they do.
Over the course of two nights, a film crew captured what it’s like to be on the other end of the phone at the centre during someone’s darkest hour.
The idea was hand-picked to be produced as a short documentary by the National Film Board of Canada after a province-wide application process last year.
The filmmaker told Global News he was struck by two things as support workers were filmed extensively for the first time ever: the diverse nature of the calls and the number of calls that flooded the phone lines.
On average, the centre gets more than 26,000 calls each year.
“Just that sheer volume of calls coming in from a city that’s not very big is pretty staggering that’s a great number of people who are in crisis,” said Eric Thiessen, a local filmmaker.
Talking at Night is just a snapshot of the 70 calls received daily by the team consisting of anywhere from two to seven support workers during peak hours.
It’s a number that is on the rise; in the last three months call volumes have been at a record high, reaching 100 calls in 24-hours at times.
“I think it used to be people would call with a single issue or be in touch with us or a service request that was regarding something a little more straight forward in crisis or in an emergency but now there is much more to it,” said Rita Field, the executive director with Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service.
“Each family member maybe having some difficulty or mental health and addictions comes into play.”
During a typical call a support worker will be on the line for 25 minutes; if face-to-face support is required the team will dedicate hours to that individual or family many of whom have small children in tow.
“A number one human need is connection and particularly when things feel out of control and so having someone listen and be that calm centering focus can help with that crisis situation,” Field added.
It’s estimated dozens upon dozens of lives have been saved through this support system so awareness of the service is key.
“We can tell our story but I think imparticular with this film – they see our story.”
A free screening of the film for it’s hometown premiere will be held Friday, Feb. 23 at 8:00 p.m. CT at Remai Modern.
“My big take away is to kind showcase the great work that they do, the stressful environment that they operate in and how they handle that stress,” Thiessen said.
“To raise awareness about the various types of calls that are coming in but also that there’s help available to anyone who finds themselves in crisis in any way.”
There will be another free screening in Big Beaver, Sask., at a later date and the film has now been submitted to different festivals.
It will also be available on the National Film Board website and will be available to educators in the province who can access it through the Education Ministry for free.
For more information on the Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service and Mobile Crisis Service, click here.