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Announcing some changes...
September 2007  

In This Issue

  • New Website 
  • Meeting The World
  • S(s)elf-Esteem by: Gregg Krech
  • Upcoming Events






Visit the new website and remember to send notification of the events that may be upcoming in your centre or area to DCO

New Website

Distress Centres Ontario is pleased to announce the launch of its new website, effective September 19, 2007.

The new website is an image change for the agency, featuring crisp new lines and modern images.  Why the change?  "The former website used an older style that was appropriate for that time, but Distress Centres have grown a lot since then," says Elizabeth Fisk, Executive Director of Distress Centres Ontario.  "The feel of the new website is much more approachable and easier to navigate."

With the website, Distress Centres Ontario presents a modern image to the community, showcasing member agencies and the services they offer.  Visitors can easily find the information they need.  An interesting addition is the History section, which outlines the history of the Distress Centre movement in Ontario.  Visitors can also discover which services are offered at various Distress Centres, which varies from centre to centre.

Updating the website also means updating the technology that runs it, and that will give Distress Centres Ontario the platform to add emergent technologies as they become available.  At the top of the list is a discussion
forum, where staff and volunteers could post questions and respond to other people's questions or comments.  "That will help all of us feel like we're a part of the movement," says Liz.  And besides a discussion forum, there are other applications that can be added as Distress Centres continue to grow.  Liz can't wait to explore what the future may hold with the capabilities of the new

If you haven't already see the new website, you can check it out by
Visiting Our Site.

Meeting the World

Does what staff and volunteers do at Distress Centres in Ontario matter across the world?

Annmarie Nicolson, manager of educational services of Distress Centre of Ottawa, thinks so, and she went to Ireland last month to share about Ottawa’s work with the international community.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) holds a world-wide congress every two years. This year it was held in Killarney, Ireland. Annmarie submitted two poster presentations for consideration, and both were accepted.  

Poster presentations are display boards that exhibits information. During the conference, they are displayed in a large room, rather like a school science fair. Each board presents new research or trends in the work of suicide prevention around the world.

Annmarie’s poster presentations were called “Paraprofessional response to suicide risk” and “An Innovative Urban/Rural Community and Hospital Partnership for Integrated Crisis Services In Canada.” The first compared paraprofessional (volunteer) response to professional response, including a cost comparison. The other was about how various agencies (both paid and volunteer) in the Ottawa area cooperate to provide mental health care.

“What we’re doing is not new across the world,” says Annmarie. “The part that is new is the integration of volunteer and professional services.” The response was very enthusiastic.

Delegates from the United Kingdom were particularly interested. The volunteer-based Samaritans movement, on which Ontario distress centres are modeled, has long helped people in crisis. However, in the UK there is also a huge professional force which operates independently from the paraprofessionals. “In the UK, manning 24-hour crisis lines with paid professionals is an inefficient use of money. They are looking for solutions,” Annmarie says. Delegates were thrilled to learn about Ottawa’s integration of volunteer and professional teams, particularly the cost comparison of these services. “Teaming their professional force with the volunteer force may be the answer they are looking for,” she adds.

While Annmarie enjoyed sharing the expertise of the Distress Centre of Ottawa, she also enjoyed hearing and being challenged by others’ stories. A psychiatrist from Iraq was particularly memorable. In that country, there is only one psychiatrist per 50 000 people, coupled with a very high suicide rate, particularly among young married women. “It was humbling to hear of how much she is doing with so little,” says Annmarie. “It made us from the west sit up and roll up our sleeves a little more.”

Something else that caught her attention was the developing use of the internet in fighting suicide, particularly in Europe. “We have a whole cohort of young people who will never pick up the phone,” says Annmarie. Some places in Europe are experimenting with offering support through text messaging and internet discussion groups. Annmarie hopes to investigate how those kinds of services could be offered in the Ottawa area.

Attending the conference gave Annmarie a unique perspective of what is happening around the world in suicide prevention.  "We're further ahead than some countries," she says, "but we're also laggin behind too."  But with that realization comes new inspiration, to press forward and try new things.

Cost Comparison of both professioanl and paraprofessional telephone crisis response in Ottawa
by:  Annmarie Nicolson
poster presentation to  International IASP Conference

  •  The average cost for the salary/benefits of a highly-trained professional mental health crisis worker in Ottawa is approximately $43/hour (2007).
  • This doesn't include operational costs such as rent, equipment, management salaries or any other infrastructure that is necessary in order to provide the crisis line service.
  • The hourly cost incurred by the Distress Centre of Ottawa to provide telephone crisis response by paraprofessional volunteers in 2006 was approximately $15/hour.
  • Assuming, as a minimum, the professional service would incur similar operating costs as the Distress Centre, the cost per hour is approximately $58 to provide a highly skilled crisis worker on the receiving end of a crisis line versus $15 using paraprofessional resources.


Arrogance is foolishness.  Pride is unrealistic
The discovery of humility is pain.
Humility, itself, is freedom.
Pride in one's humility is seductive and dangerous.
Self-esteem is an illusion when it is esteem for the self.
Esteem for the Self is Wisdom.
Guilt is natural.  Compassion is natural.
Two ends of the same stick.
Gratitude is the natural response to opening one's eyes.
Moments of seeing--gifts themselves.
Clinging to unreality is demanding and exhausting.
Reality is just as it is.
Make your image a realistic one.
Disappear into the mystery of being ordinary.
It's a long fall, but the ground is soft and firm.

By: Greg Krech

Upcoming Events For Distress CEntres Ontario Member Centres

October 25, 2007
4:30 p.m.

Delta Markham
50 East Valhalla Drive
Markham, ON  L3R 0A3

Please invite your Board Members to attend and join us for the Networking Dinner to follow that evening.
October 25, 2007
10  a.m. to 4 p.m.

Delta Markham
50 East Valhalla Drive
Markham, ON  L3R 0A3

Registration information available Monday October 1, 2007.

October 26, 2007
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Program includes:

Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Counselling Program - Program Manager

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - staff of the PTSD Clinic, McMaster University

Borderline Personality Disorder - staff of the BPD Clinic, CAMH, Toronto

Learn with Laughter - a light hearted end to the day, Trina Hasenclever, humorist

Delta Markham
50 East Valhalla Drive
Markham, ON  L3R 0A3

Program details and registration information avaialable on Monday October 1, 2007.

The Education Committee is looking forward to meeting with the membership at the Networking Day on October 26th.  We will share many of the ideas discussed at our meetings and look for your input and suggestions.
Hope to see you all there at the meeting.

Next Month






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DCO Distress Centres Ontario
700 Lawrence Ave W.
Suite 475 A
Toronto, Ontario M6A 3B4


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