2-1-1 Saskatchewan has long offered a link for residents throughout the province to reach non-clinical healthcare, as well as social and government programs in their communities via text, phone or online.
“If you’re someone dealing with anxiety, depression, mental health issues, income issues, you can’t call 9-1-1, that’s where you call 2-1-1,” 2-1-1 Saskatchewan Marketing Specialist Coleman Walker explained.
Over the course of the pandemic, Walker and the 2-1-1 team saw a drastic spike in call volume.
“Our calls, you know, they were in the hundreds the past couple of years (2018, 2019) and then we got something like 1,500 calls in 2020,” he said. “A lot of it surrounds COVID, because people weren’t really sure what to do, where to go, who to help.”
The number of COVID calls were followed closely by those looking to cope with anxiety, depression and loneliness brought on by the pandemic.
As the province has reopened, 2-1-1 has seen another spike in daily calls.
“This reopening is another change, just like it was when the pandemic hit,” Walker explained. “People had just started to adapt to that routine and are now having to change it all over again, leading to confusion and anxiety.”
This second uptick prompted a newfound partnership behind 2-1-1 and the recently launched SaskWell service.
SaskWell is a two-way texting service that offers mental health and wellness tips, as well as resources.
“We have weekly text messages as well as wellness tips and sign-ups,” SaskWell Project Coordinator Courtney Carlberg said. “So, we’ve added Saskatchewan 2-1-1 as (another) resource.”
SaskWell involves several partners, including the University of Saskatchewan, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
This most recent partnership between SaskWell and 2-1-1 has both parties pleased with how they’ll be able to use their resources to better help the people of Saskatchewan.
“Everyone needs different things in order to succeed in life, and in order to take care of their wellbeing,” Walker said. “We want to be the place that they can come to to find the resources that they need.”