CMHA Vernon’s crisis line seeks volunteers

Due to heavy call volumes, demand for volunteers is on the rise

The Canadian Mental Health Association branch in Vernon is seeking more volunteers to answer calls for the crisis line and training begins this Saturday.

Since CMHA incorporated an online chat service in the spring, the Vernon site finds itself recruiting more volunteers more regularly in order to keep up with call volumes.

Crisis line coordinator Emily Hollenbach said any kindhearted adult with a desire to help others, aged 19-99, would be considered an excellent volunteer candidate.

“We have people from all walks of life, not all of us are from the mental health field,” Hollenbach said. “We have tradespeople, homemakers, medical professionals, students and retirees.”

“We are individuals who come together to do what we can to make a difference,” she said.

The skills learned through training and on the job improve the way volunteers communicate in their personal relationships and aids in stress management, CMHA said in a statement.

“People are scared they won’t know what to do. They fear the unknown,” a 20-year veteran volunteer said. “There are policies and procedures in place, resources and backup available.”

“There is always support on the other end of a phone,” they said. “Plus, the training is excellent. You can use the knowledge throughout your whole life.”

Volunteers undergo extensive training, which includes 36-hours in class and 16 practical hours to complete, and are equipped with the skills to listen actively, establish boundaries and given the skills to de-escalate situations. Volunteers walk away from the training well prepared to take any type of call.

“We take the wellbeing of our volunteers very seriously,” Hollenbach said. “They are never put in a position where they feel alone or unsupported.”

The skills learned on the job are transferable to many employment avenues and the Vernon Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN) provides volunteers in good standing reference letters after 200 hours.

Volunteers for the ICLN said not only does their work enhance the lives of callers, but it enriches their own lives as well.

“Whether it is the humbling effects of hearing a caller’s story and knowing they have made an impact in their community, or because it gives the volunteer a sense of purpose; one thing is for sure, the volunteers at the Vernon site of the ICLN agree that their lives have been enriched by their weekly volunteer shift,” the organization wrote in a release.

January in-class training begins Jan. 18 and 19 from 8:30-5 p.m. Dates are also available on Jan. 25-26 (8:30-5 p.m.) and Jan. 30 (4-8:30 p.m.).

For more information about volunteering for the Interior Crisis Line Netowrk, visit cmhavernon.ca or call 250-542-311 ext. 232.

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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