Service providers working together to implement a one-line phone access system for the region
London, ON – The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Middlesex strives to provide responsive and innovative services to empower individuals on their recovery journey. To accomplish this, we champion change in the mental health and addictions system and work to always put the individuals we support first in our work.

Over the past year and a half, we have been working with our community partners and funders to explore the possibility of a one-number access line for individuals across London, Middlesex, Oxford and Elgin counties.

Currently there are multiple support lines including the Crisis Response Line, Distress Line and Senior Helpline answered by London & District Distress Centre, Drug & Alcohol Helpline, Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline and Mental Health Helpline answered by ConnexOntario as well as information and referral services offered at CMHA Middlesex, CMHA Oxford and CMHA Elgin.

Individuals experiencing a crisis shouldn’t need to determine which of these lines best meets their needs. We believe moving to a one-number system will best support individuals in our community and is an important way to reduce barriers to accessing services.

A one-line access system will provide general mental health and addictions information, direct referrals for services (including screening and calendar access and scheduling between service providers), crisis support and bilingual services. Therapeutic and supportive listening services will be provided by volunteers at the Mental Health & Addictions Crisis Centre. At CMHA Middlesex, we hope to grow this service to include text and web chat support to individuals in crisis.

Earlier this year, the London & District Distress Centre and ConnexOntario presented proposals for coordinating the one-number access line to a committee of service providers and funders working on this project. It was unanimously approved that ConnexOntario had the infrastructure (including the telephone and IT system), capacity and support model to manage the line. As a result, CMHA Middlesex will be moving the funding provided currently to the London & District Distress Centre for the Crisis Response Line to ConnexOntario later this year.

We are also working with our funders at United Way London & Middlesex to move the volunteer therapeutic phone support services (currently offered through the Distress Line) to the Mental Health & Addictions Crisis Centre. By including this service as part of a robust team of mental health and addictions staff, we are confident that individuals experiencing a crisis will receive the care they need while only having to tell their story once.

CMHA Middlesex will continue to work with our partners to build coordinated, responsive and compassionate mental health and addictions supports. We will be working closely in the coming months with ConnexOntario and the London & District Distress Centre to ensure a seamless transition of services and to develop a collaborative model of care.

Our community has benefitted from the compassion and dedication of the staff and volunteers at the London & District Distress Centre for 48 years. There have been continuous efforts made to include the London & District Distress Centre in our community’s redesign of these mental health and addictions services. We thank them for the many years of partnership with the Crisis Response Line and will provide any support needed to transition services into the new one-line access system.

We are committed to ensuring there is no disruption in services during the coming months.

For more information:

Kristy Cairns
Manager of Communications & Public Engagement
CMHA Middlesex
Tel: 519 668-0624 ext. 425