The organization has been such an inspiration especially during these unprecedented times. Knowing that the community has a friend to call anytime 24/7 is comforting, and it makes such a huge difference. Keep up the great work, Distress Centre Team!

- Anonymous

We made 152,272 connections in 2021. We want to create a Calgary where everyone is heard.


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contact centre and remote volunteer hours.

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213 new volunteers undertook training.

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93% of surveyed volunteers continue to make a difference outside of Distress Centre by using their training in their everyday life.

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$758,887 was saved on salaries thanks to our crisis line volunteers

There are many, many lonely, distraught, hopeless, suicidal individuals in our world that struggle daily and if the DC was not available to them, they may harm themselves, harm others or become less of an individual. It is important that we exist so that individuals can start healing themselves.

- George, volunteer

Crisis Support

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crisis connections made.

In 2021, we introduced a number of protocols in response to the ongoing COVID pandemic, which include:

  • Expanding our hours of operation to 24/7 with text and chat crisis intervention support.
  • Offering crisis text for our general crisis line, a service which was only available through ConnecTeen. Anyone can now call or text 403.266.HELP for peer and crisis intervention support.
  • Earning accreditation with the American Association of Suicidology.
  • Continuing to employ staff so that we would be able to maintain 24/7 support for crisis calls through the various waves of the pandemic.
  • Increasing the number of calls made through our safety follow-up program.
  • Implemented a new telephony system that gave us increased flexibility in offering remote work options for staff and volunteers.
  • This new telephony system also gives us increased performance and data analytics.
  • Made the decision to make remote volunteer positions a permanent option, allowing Distress Centre to recruit and train volunteers from outside the Calgary area.

of all online contacts identified suicide as a top concern.

There was a


decrease in emergency interventions.


emergency interventions were supported by Distress Centre.


of contacts initially assessed as emergent and urgent were stabilized and downgraded to urgent or semi-urgent.

Read Sarah’s Story >
  • Sarah called the crisis line and disclosed that she had been assaulted by her partner the day before and had left the abusive relationship. She did not feel safe contacting emergency services and stated that she did not require medical attention.
  • The Crisis Line Worker (CLW) noted Sarah’s bravery while helping her navigate through the conflicted feelings she was experiencing. The CLW completed a risk assessment for suicide and risk of violence and worked with Sarah to create a comprehensive safety plan in case her former partner attempted to contact her.
  • In her final session, Sarah identified having learned a lot about her own resilience and her own capacity to care for herself and access support when needed.
Minimize Story ^
Read Tracy's Story >
  • Tracy was feeling very overwhelmed with her changing circumstances amidst the COVID pandemic. She contacted 211 and a Community Resource Specialist (CRS) took the time to explore Tracy’s needs and understand her situation.
  • Tracy shared that she was a single mother who was struggling financially and had been unable to find work. She was worried about making rent for the upcoming month and was struggling with food insecurity.
  • The CRS offered to complete a Basic Needs Fund intake while also putting Tracy in contact with additional resources such as Aspen Family Services, the Women in Need Society and Calgary Food Bank.
  • In a follow-up call, Tracy stated she was in the process of getting everything set up with the Basic Needs Fund and that she was able to secure food through the Calgary Food Bank. She felt incredibly supported by 211 and expressed gratitude for the service.
Minimize Story ^
Read Gillian's Story >
  • Gillian reached out to the crisis line hoping to find some strategies for coping effectively with several issues in her life that had been compounded by the COVID pandemic and completed a counselling intake.
  • In her first session, Gillian shared that she was encountering difficulties in her work as a result of the pandemic. She also shared that she was having difficulties at home, including emotional abuse from her partner, seeing her partner assault her adult son and was struggling over how to support her two other teenage children, including one who was struggling with substance abuse issues.
  • In her first session, Gillian identified she wanted to prioritize self-care. Through her six sessions, she found it helpful to simply feel she could find her voice and move towards a better understanding how she could recover her energy and will.
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We made


connections through 211.

We experienced a


increase in contact volume from 2020.

This includes all calls and online contacts as well as follow-up contacts with service users.

211 was also at the forefront of COVID response initiatives, which included:

  • Keeping up to date with changes in community resources and services
  • Becoming the Isolation Hotel referral point for Alberta Health Services
  • Completed intakes for the Commercial Isolation Hotel program
  • Connecting Albertans with transportation resources for vaccine appointments

There was a 36% increase of follow-up contacts made as part of our revamped safety follow-up program.

70.3% of surveyed users reported they were able to get the help they needed.

Issues included queries on the latest public health regulations, coping with social isolation, financial struggles, childcare challenges and help for suicidal ideation.


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calls, chats, emails and texts were made in 2021.

Our team this year worked to reach more teens while working under COVID restrictions, employing a number of strategies:

  • The ConnecTeam team pivoted from in-person to virtual presentations and community events.
  • A virtual escape room was in development and launched February 2022.
  • Two 3-month ad campaigns ran in 30 high schools in Calgary.
  • We were able to expand service for text and chat hours to 24 hours a day in October, which saw a resulting rise in contacts.

of surveyed ConnecTeen users reported a stable or reduced level of distress at the end of their chat sessions.

I became a volunteer to lend an ear to someone in being a volunteer I learn about better ways to interact with the world and grow as an individual.

–Youth volunteer

I started volunteering because I felt like I wanted to do good for the community I feel good when I make others feel can't really see directly the impact you make, but it can be something as simple as ‘you helped me a lot today’ to know you've made a difference.

–Youth volunteer


“When panic attacks suddenly started for me for the first time at age 41, couldn't imagine waiting several days for an appointment with a therapist. The value of speaking with someone at Distress Centre in real-time is not lost on me. I am incredibly grateful for this service. Thank you.”

– Client

“Each time I was with my counsellor she made me feel like she cared...there was somebody there to hear me out and help guide me through my stress. When I needed help with an issue she had resources ready for me. She had answers for me.”

– Client


counselling contacts were completed.


average of new counselling intakes per month.


increase in counselling intakes from 2020.


of clients at the end of counselling say they are better able to cope with what brought them into counselling.

Partner Agencies Support


contacts were answered in collaboration with our partner agencies.

This includes contacts we answered on behalf of Family Violence, Bullying Help and The Way In, SSRT, Red Deer Social Diversion Team and the 24/7 Canada Suicide Prevention Service line.

Due to increasing our area of coverage, we saw a 34% increase in contacts answered on behalf of Family Violence, Bullying Help, SSRT, Red Deer Social Diversion Team and The Way In.

We saw a 122% increase in calls answered on behalf of the 24/7 Canada Suicide Prevention Service line.

Basic Needs Fund (BNF)

We provided assistance to


clients in 2021

$338,914 was distributed through our Basic Needs Fund to individuals and families who needed one-time financial assistance with damage deposit, rent payment and utility payment assistance.

94% of surveyed clients reported that their situation improved since accessing the Basic Needs Fund.

CAA, SORCe and Financial Empowerment

We were able to support


clients in 2021

Housing assessment volumes increased by


We saw a 39% increase in clients from 2020. Part of this increase came as a result of expanding and adjusting our services to better meet the needs of people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. These included:

  • ID Program
  • Housing Location Program
  • Crisis Mental Health & Client Advocate
  • Diversion programming was introduced to enhance our focus on housing
  • Increased our basic needs provision
  • Implementation of a client flex fund to provide easier access for housing, family reunification and access to treatment for clients

We supported 139 community partners with training to become Housing Strategists, increasing overall coverage in Calgary.