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Home / News / Navigating the Numbers: When to dial 988, 211, 811, or 911
December 7, 2023
With the introduction of 988 as a suicide prevention line, Albertans now have more options when navigating the network of mental health support or social services.
Canadians can now call or text 988 for immediate mental health crisis and suicide prevention support from trained staff.
Canada has introduced a new three-digit number, 988, for suicide prevention and emotional distress. This number is the same as the one used in the United States.
With the creation of 988, Canadians will have a number that’s easy to remember in a crisis where they can access support from trained responders in English and in French, by phone and text, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The number will complement three-digit numbers that are already in place, like 211, 811, and 911. So, how do you know when to call which number?
When to Call 211:
Navigating the social sector is hard, and it’s not always clear where to go for help. 211 Alberta is an essential service that helps Albertans find the right resource service for whatever issue they need help with, at the right time. The confidential and comprehensive information and referral system provides effective, timely and appropriate information and referrals to community resources.
In Alberta, 211 is an initiative of United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, in partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton, and Distress Centre Calgary.
Since 211 Alberta is co-located with crisis lines, Albertans benefit from the shared expertise and collaborative work of crisis responders and 211 navigators. 211 Alberta navigators can also connect callers directly to 911 as needed.
Learn More About 211
When to Call 988:
Call or text 988 if you are thinking about suicide, are emotionally distressed, or are worried about someone else thinking about suicide. Trained crisis responders will listen to you and provide support with compassion, providing a safe space for you to talk.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Public Health Agency of Canada led the development of 988, but local support will be provided by existing crisis and suicide prevention services. This collaboration reduces duplication and improves navigation for callers. At launch in Alberta, 988 will be answered by Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton, and Distress Centre Calgary, meaning the service will be co-located with 211.
Learn More About 988
When to Call 811:
811: Alberta’s Health Link 811 provides free 24 / 7 nurse advice and general health information for Albertans, as well as tele-triage, health advice, and navigation services. Albertans can contact 811 for mental health and addictions advice, support, and referrals.
Learn More About 811
When to Call 911:
In Alberta, 911 is a government service that can connects callers to fire, ambulance, and police dispatch during emergencies and life-threatening situations. If someone is in immediate danger, or is a danger to others, call 911.
Learn More About 911
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