Work on distress line worthy of praise, not criticism

Emma Eaton The Second Opinion Society (SOS) has been a vibrant community of people helping people in Whitehorse and the communities of Yukon for nearly a quarter of a century. Recently, questions were raised regarding SOS's partnership with NorthwesTel a

Emma Eaton

The Second Opinion Society (SOS) has been a vibrant community of people helping people in Whitehorse and the communities of Yukon for nearly a quarter of a century.

Recently, questions were raised regarding SOS’s partnership with NorthwesTel and Bell for a distress phone line. The competency of our planning, development and finance coordinator, Hailey Hechtman, was also called into question, and we’d like to address some of those concerns.

Our new distress line is an extension of SOS’s proud tradition of a community coming together to help its members. In our volunteer drive, we have been so happy to see all walks of life and all ages volunteering to support each other.

Bringing this distress line to the Yukon has been, at times, a great struggle, but we believe that it is both worthwhile and necessary.

The credit for this distress line within SOS goes to Hailey Hechtman, who has been working tirelessly on this project for many months. We would like to add that she has had the full support of the board, our members and the wider community, who attended our general meeting in July of this year to hear a report on our progress with the distress line.

We, the board and the members of SOS, are very proud to have Hechtman in our employ. In addition, NorthwesTel has generously donated significant resources to this project, and without their support it would not be possible. We are very grateful to NorthwesTel’s and Bell’s support.

Speaking of the wider community, some questions were raised regarding the RCMP’s relationship with SOS and the distress line.

It is true that many people have been forced into treatment without their consent, and law enforcement has been a part of this distressing process. When we approached the RCMP regarding this distress line, however, it provided us with a letter of support, and we’d like to share some of it with you.

It reads: “Community safety can be greatly impacted by a variety of social issues including addictions and mental health… if not proactively addressed, these issues can result in a police intervention in situations that are not criminal in nature.”

The RCMP supports Yukon’s new distress line because it believes that an alternative approach to distress situations is necessary for the Yukon community, and welcomes the trained peer counselling that this distress line will provide.

If you would like to hear more about the distress line, or would like to volunteer, we welcome your questions! Please phone SOS at 867-667-2037 or pop by our drop-in centre at 304 Hawkins Street in Whitehorse between the hours of 10 a.m.-3p.m., Monday to Friday.

Emma Eaton is chair of the Second Opinion board of directors.

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