The Mental Health Commission of Canada commends the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for their landmark announcement to activate a nationwide three-digit suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline, to launch in 2023.
An easy to remember three-digit number helps remove a barrier for people who are in crisis. Simply put, the 9-8-8 hotline will save lives.
The MHCC remains committed to actively supporting the implementation of 9-8-8. Our recent collaborative work Considerations for Implementing a Three-Digit Suicide Prevention Number in Canada offers applicable policy considerations to a successful path forward. The MHCC applauds the announcement that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will lead the coordination and delivery of this service. CAMH’s expertise in health equity is a poignant step forward to a successful implementation that addresses access and equity concerns.
Community consultation is key. Learning from the collective experiences of persons with lived experience of a mental illness, Indigenous people, racialized communities and 2SLGBTQ+ people is integral to success. Communities are experts of their own environments and must provide input into implementation of a three-digit number in their context.
It is also imperative that we close the gaps on the urban and rural digital divide. We must ensure that all rural and remote residents have adequate broadband internet coverage and mobile devices to guarantee access to phone and texting services related to 9-8-8.
While there is much work ahead for the mental health and substance use health sectors as we lead up to a target launch November 30, 2023 – we must not lose sight that this is indeed very good news.
9-8-8 is a step in the right direction for the mental health of all people who live in Canada.
President and CEO
Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org