MDAO Forum

Support for People with Mood Disorders => General Discussion => Topic started by: Dragonfly on January 30, 2015, 07:23:09 pm

Title: Surprised about the good support I got from a distress line
Post by: Dragonfly on January 30, 2015, 07:23:09 pm
Hi everyone,

I used a distress line in my area twice in the last two weeks. I was very skeptical about getting through. I couldn't believe I did. A woman spoke to me the first time and a man the next time. Actually it doesn't matter about gender. Both people listened to me, very sympathetic and very caring. They helped me a lot. Of course, these depressed times usually come at night and on the weekend.

I have been going through quite a few situations lately that haven't been particularly pleasant.

Today my caseworker came to my house. She listened very carefully to my problems. She is a very good support and I like her very much.

I am more settled now and some of the situations have been taken care of.


Title: Re: Surprised about the good support I got from a distress line
Post by: paulm on January 31, 2015, 01:06:58 am
Hello Dragonfly. I'm glad that you had success. Also thx for posting about your experience as it helps others learn about what's available. I'm going to take the liberty and ramble on a bit about distress lines as I think that they can be an important tool. Take Care. paul m

 Hello everyone. I volunteer at a distress line and we welcome all calls, we don't have call display(although you can always ask to make sure). We may ask for a name to call you by, but it doesn't have to be real and we don't want last names. We may ask what city you are calling from so that we know where to focus our energies,but we never ask for a last name.  All of our calls are kept confidential.  Of course it's easy to be confidential when all we know is that a Paul is calling from someplace in Ont.

 We are open 24/7 and like anyplace else it's easiest to get through quickly at 2-5 am, so don't be afraid to call at anytime. (also 7-8am is often slow). 

 We are well trained and our training never ends,but we are not medical professionals. We do take crisis calls, but we will try and get you to allow us to conference call you through to a medical professional.  Our mandate is provide caring and sympathetic conversation and /or listening which ever the caller wishes. 

 We talk with the lonely, the abused, those who can't sleep, those in pain, the paranoid, the frightened, the grieving, those with family problems, those suffering from a mental/physical illness, people in unhappy marriages, people who can't find or keep a partner or those who have lost a partner through accident, illness or divorce , people with family problems , people with financial problems, in fact just about anybody.   We take them all without making judgments or being critical.  About the only calls we won't take are obscene calls.

 If you get a volunteer that you are not happy with, try calling at a different time or a different distress centre. Long distance plans means that we sometimes get callers from all over North America. Very few volunteers can satisfy 100% of the people 100% of the time.  I've had people call me every shift I done for 5yrs, others hang up at the sound of my voice.  Some people will complain that when I say hello that I don't sound cheerful enough, although I don't understand how they can deduce that when I just say one word.

 Each distress centre sets their own limits, some allow one 20 minute call a day, ours allows up to 5 , 20 minute calls a day, although that may be curtailed a bit during busy times.  We never hang up or limit the time on someone who is suicidal, so other calls may have to wait when that happens.

 So give your local distress centre a call. You may be surprised.  Take Care. paul m
Title: Re: Surprised about the good support I got from a distress line
Post by: Soozan on January 31, 2015, 07:38:13 pm
Wow! That is a lot of information and very helpful! I wish I had known that when I was going through my worst times, I needed someone to talk to and didn't know where to turn, I felt I was exhausting my family and friends and even my counselor, I was even exhausting myself! But I needed a way to talk out the pain.

Is this what is called the warm line? where does one find numbers for those? or is it a hotline? Just curious... I think it would be good for those numbers or at least where to find those numbers would be helpful.

Thanks again for sharing Dragonfly and Paul!

- Soozan
Title: Re: Surprised about the good support I got from a distress line
Post by: paulm on February 03, 2015, 12:04:59 am
Hello Soozan. I'm glad that you asked.  Most times you can find a crisis/distress/warm line by calling 211(no charge) and sometimes by looking in the front of your phone book.

 I"ll explain the basic differences, although each one may be a little different.

 Crisis Line, is exactly that, a crisis line. They have the means to put you in contact with various emergency services, shelters etc immediately. They are also mostly paid employees and they will call an ambulance/police etc if they think that you are suicidal. They do record what you say and who you are and they do have call display and while they do allow repeat callers, generally they really limit how much time they can talk.

 A distress line generally means that they are volunteers and that because they are  not paid professionals, they cannot give out medical advice. However they do have a lot of local knowledge, they have more time to spend with repeat callers and they are very compassionate. 

 When you said  "I needed someone to talk to and didn't know where to turn, I felt I was exhausting my family and friends and even my counselor, I was even exhausting myself! But I needed a way to talk out the pain. "

 That is one of the types of service that distress lines can be good at offering. I know that at the centre in my area some people do call up to 5 times a day and spend 80-90 minutes on the phone each day with various volunteers, because they have exhausted everyone else or have no one  to exhaust. We can also offer crisis services, but as a volunteer we can only link you through to someone who can call an ambulance etc(the crisis line can do it while talking to you by sending an email direct to emergency services like 911).

 Other services that we offer that a crisis line won't. Your cat/dog dies and you are extremely upset, we will listen and
 commiserate with you. Your husband abuses you, we may advise you of your options, but we will also just listen if that's what you want.
 Family problems, we can listen and if you wish advise where to get counselling.  The only thing that we won't listen to are obscene items. Items that are offensive to the volunteer(some people will try and get their jollies by telling the volunteer they are F***ing idiot because they didn't answer the phone cheerfully enough). Anyone who advises that they have abused children in any way isn't allowed to talk (we get some weird phone calls).

 I've done over 250 shifts and I've taken well over 5000 calls and I would estimate that 60% of them are regular callers.  I can't think of too many situations that I've dealt with where I wouldn't listen confidentially, without judgement and if the occasion call for it, with sympathy. I only mention that as I'm just an average volunteer, we have people who have been doing a shift a week for 35+ years.

 Distress and warm lines are not in the business of making judgment. Whereas a crisis line does.  Crisis lines provide a valuable service, but they are forced by cost constraints and the law to operate in a much different manner. What they are really good at is if someone is in an immediate crisis and need direct help getting that help, they are the best. Of course, in my area, they have a budget if about 1 million and take maybe 3000 calls , whereas we take 12,000 calls a yr on a budget of 35,000.

 Warm lines can be great too. Most warm lines are not open 24/7 and most don't offer the crisis services that we do. For example the MDAO operates a warm line called T.I.P.S. M-F  9.30-5.00   1-866-363-MOOD (6663).   The Krasman operates a unique warm line . The support line is answered by individuals with lived experience with mental health concerns, addiction, and/or trauma. I have never called it, so I don't know what what their quality is like. 1-888-777-0979

 Most distresslines are listed either under DCO , although there are some operated by a variety of other places.

Telecare of Greater Simcoe. 705-325-9534 or 705-726-7922
Telecare Peterborough 705-745-2273
Telecare Cambridge 519-659-5455

Toronto Distress line is sort of a hybrid distress/crisis line, they do have call display and they will call emergency services 416 408 4357 

 NISA warm line covers from Parry Sound to Sault St Marie and Timmins 1-866-856-9276 

 Sorry to be long winded, but they do provide a good service. Take Care. paul m

Title: Re: Surprised about the good support I got from a distress line
Post by: Dragonfly on February 03, 2015, 05:08:11 am
Thank you so much for that post Paul. I am going to take all that information down. I would say I will be using some of these services in the next while with what I am going through right now.

Dragonfly  :)