About Us

History

Over 45 years of care and compassion.

While the volume of calls, the look and the name have changed in 45 years, Distress Centre’s deeply rooted belief in volunteerism and partnership has not faltered. Our core values of 24 hour, non-judgmental, free, accessible support remain unchanged, and we are poised to respond for decades to come.

YEAR PROGRAM/PARTNERSHIP
1970 On April 14th, the Drug Information Centre opened its doors with the goal of providing unbiased drug information and education, crisis intervention and research anytime, day or night. In the first year of operation, The volunteers responded to 3,837 calls and 1,724 drop-ins.
1973 The Centre began to shift from purely drug related calls to a dual emphasis on crisis and addictions.
1975 The 24 hour crisis line was launched and the City of Calgary became one of the principle funders.
1977 The Drug Information Centre changed its name to Distress Centre/Drug Centre and was accepted as a member of the United Way.
1983 Teen Line was established to provide the youth of Calgary with a place to call that was specifically focused on their needs. This service was the first of its kind in Canada.
1990 Distress Centre sought to secure additional sources of funding throughout the ‘90s to meet the growing demand for crisis support.
1999 Distress Centre continued to experience tremendous growth as we introduced several new programs and partnerships. These included partnerships with mobile teams such as the Mobile Response Team.

This paved the way for our current structure of effective partnerships and further established Distress Centre as an innovative leader in the community.
2005 Distress Centre partnered with the City of Calgary and United Way, launched 211 Calgary. This further established Distress Centre as the hub of crisis support and the “go-to” place for community referrals in Calgary.
2009 Due to the recession, Distress Centre responded to an the increase in complexity of issues as well as severity of risk. To respond to the increased need, Distress Centre began to leverage social data from 211 to help with mapping issues in communities throughout the city, develop programs in areas of need, and targeting assistance to the hardest hit populations.
2010 Distress Centre's 40th Anniversary. The refreshed brand made its debut, along with the introduction of one memorable crisis line number, 403.266.HELP (4357).
2011 Distress Centre announced the launch of their refurbished youth peer support program, ConnecTeen, which now, in addition to 24-hour phone support at 403.264.TEEN (8336), offers online crisis chat and email support online at calgaryconnecteen.com.
2012 Distress Centre launched online services by expanding their current service offerings to include daily online chat and email support at distresscentre.com. 
2013

Following the June floods, Distress Centre responded to a 40% increase in help-seeking calls to 211. In July, the 211 service is expanded to High River to help those impacted by the floods. 

In November, ConnecTeen announced the launch of their new youth peer support texting program, the first program of it's kind in North America. The texting service is now available to all Calgary & area youth daily by texting 587.333.2724. 

Distress Centre was selected by the Calgary Homeless Foundation to provide coordinated intake into Calgary’s homeless-serving system. Distress Centre’s CAA team operates out of the Safe Communities Opportunity and Resource Centre (SORCe), and assists people at risk of or experiencing homelessness by providing a single point of access to housing and support services.

2015

ConnecTeen online service hours were expanded to 3pm-10pm weekdays and noon-10pm on weekends. Distress Centre online chat hours were expanded to 3pm-10pm weekdays and noon-10pm on weekends.

Distress Centre developed a new, bold 2016-20 Strategic Plan.

2016

211 played a critical role in supporting the Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo evacuees when wildfires ravaged the area in May. 211 provided evacuees with up-to-date information and connected donors/volunteers with agencies they could support. Online chat was launched province-wide to give evacuees another way to contact 211. 211 collateral and staff were also available at evacuation centres.




Meet our Executive Director


Joan Roy was named Executive Director for Distress Centre on June 10th, 2013. Joan specializes in suicide prevention and sits on the Calgary & Area Suicide Prevention Committee, Calgary Domestic Violence Coalition and the Canadian Crisis Centre Executive. She works closely with the Aboriginal community in the area of mental health and wellness.

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