Meet Our 2023 Health Heroes!


Psychiatrist Allison Crawford

Psychiatrist Allison Crawford

For heading up a new suicide prevention line

As of November 30, Canadians can now call or text an easy-to-remember service called 9-8-8, designed to connect people who are thinking about suicide (or worried about someone they know) to trained responders. Its free and available 24/7.Allison Crawford, a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health psychiatrist and clinician scientist, is the chief medical officer behind the new program. She and her team saw the urgent need to address suicide prevention as a public health issue, and submitted the new proposal for 9-8-8 to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Taking a public health approach to suicide prevention, says Crawford, means providing a phone service thats proactive and local. Its not enough to just wait until people end up in a clinic or a hospital. We need more community-based resources and supports, and we need more prevention, she says. People who contact 9-8-8 will be directed to the specialized, trained responder closest to their home. Available in English and French, there are also specific options for people under age 18, or who identify as First Nations, Inuit or Mtis.The demand for mental health support is soaring right now, Crawford points out. The percentage of Canadians age 15 and older with a generalized anxiety disorder doubled from 2012 to 2022. (For women between 15 and 24, it tripled.) The 9-8-8 number is part of meeting that demand. 9-8-8 will increase conversation about suicide prevention and decrease stigma, she says. Bonnie Schiedel(Related: 14 Virtual Care Services in Canada You Need to Know About)

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