EDMONTON (CityNews) – The ability to pick up the phone, and talk to someone who understands your reality has been difficult to find for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
A new crisis line was launched earlier this week, catering to Edmonton’s LGBTQ2S+ community, and is already getting calls.
“I want to see an end to it right, I don’t want to lose more people that I care about and are in my life,” said Niel Salbury.
Adding he’s known over a dozen people in his community, who have lost their lives to suicide or addictions.
That’s what drove him to create “The Brite Line” in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Edmonton.
“The person picking up the phone understands, cares, isn’t going to misgender someone, and has a bit of an understanding of the issues,” said Salbury.
“Increasingly there has been awareness that one size fits all approaches to mental health, don’t work,” explained Jonathan Skinner.
Skinner says as a crisis worker, it’s been clear how isolating the pandemic has been.
But even before lockdowns, which Statistics Canada estimates disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, studies showed that those in the LGBTQ2S+ community were more likely to face mental health struggles with higher instances of suicide.
“The real disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on our 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and I’m really hopeful that, again, this line can be that lifeline for someone that just needs someone to listen.”
Saying while it’s the first dedicated line at CMHA, where those answering have extra training and lived experience, it could be the pilot for other crisis lines for specific groups.
Adding that most studies on mental health and addiction often don’t take into account gender and sexual minorities. The Canadian Mental Health Association plans to collect aggregate data from calls to the Brite Line to help paint a better picture of issues facing the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
And while the Brite Line is in Edmonton, they are ready for calls from rural Alberta as well.
“We want them to know there is always someone who will listen to them.”