Executive Director's Message

For almost 50 years, this association focused on building the capacity of organizations that support at-risk individuals within their own communities.   The nature of that support has changed as the ‘times have changed’, but the commitment and dedication has remained as strong as ever.  We should never forget that when distress centres began suicide was a crime.  Based on the Samaritan model of listening originally practiced in Britain, this active listening and befriending style of support has been extremely well accepted for the past half century.   One of the core principles of our association and its member organizations over the years has been the dedication to insuring that no one suffers in silence.  There is always a volunteer who is willing to listen, be empathic, help deescalate crises  and offer referrals to supports in their community.

Our member organizations ensure that people who are depressed, lonely, facing addiction, financial, marital or mental health issues always find a listening ear and know they are not alone with their struggles.  People with mental health issues need to feel connected to community resources and supported when their clinical help is not readily available, and our member organizations make sure they provide support and referrals. 

The nature of the ‘listening ear’ has changed with the significant change in methods of communication.  Though contact through telephone continues to grow each year, an even greater area of growth has been addition of listening and supporting via chat and through text on mobile devices.  Over the last five years since the province-wide program was conceived, through its pilot phase to today the need has grown exponentially.  Individuals who would not reach out via the telephone are finding chat and text support helps keep them connected and safe.

Distress and Crisis Ontario’s goals have been adjusted over the years, but in many ways have remained the same!

  • Encouraging and empowering each member centre or organization across the province
  • Strengthening collaboration and working in concert to bolster sustainability
  • Fostering relationships amongst our members internally and with like-minded partners externally
  • Offering expert resources in the provision of rapid access to emotional, distress, crisis and suicide support
  • Enhancing the value of membership and ensuring benefits and services meet members’ needs
  • Being the tireless voice for the distress centre movement in Ontario, whether with government policy makers, partners, sponsors and the community at large

It has been my personal and professional honour to have been associated with DCO for ten years in one capacity or another.  I continue to be humbled by the dedication and hard work of the staff, board members  and volunteers who provide the services to their communities.  In my estimation, these heroes deserve all the recognition we can give them and I’m always awe-inspired in their presence.  They know and understand what individuals in their communities need and are always there to help 24/7.  Thank you to everyone on behalf of all Ontarians!

Liz Fisk, Executive Director