Mental health support services will be only three-digits away thanks to a new mental health hotline endorsed by Muskoka Lakes Council on June 16.
The three-digit hotline, said to be 988, would make it easier and faster for those in need of mental health support services across Canada.
“The Town of Muskoka Lakes recognizes that this is a significant and important initiative to ensure critical barriers are removed to those in crisis and seeking help,” said Mayor Phil Harding.
According to the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, mental health support calls increased by 200% from October 2019 to October 2020. The organization said the pandemic was the largest cause for this increase.
The hotline is a federal government project that was passed in December 2020. Mayor Harding said that council had received public correspondence on the new hotline. Muskoka and Parry Sound MP Scott Aitchison also spoke to council about his support for the new hotline prior to the council meeting.
Council unanimously passed the motion to support the service during last week’s meeting.
During an interview, Mayor Harding reaffirmed his support for the hotline. “We all know 411 is information, 911 is an emergency. The idea behind a national suicide hotline for Muskoka and everyone in Canada would be help at the end of the phone line,” he said. “Personally, I have lost several friends and colleagues to suicide and the hope with a new national 3-digit phone number that people can receive help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This service will save lives.”
Previous hotlines were 10-digit numbers and harder to get someone on the phone quickly.
The federal government has said that the hotline may take two years to be fully operational.
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