About Us


Over 45 years of care and compassion.

While the volume of calls, the look and the name have changed in 40 years, Distress Centre’s deeply rooted belief in volunteerism and partnership has not faltered. Our core values of 24 hour, non-judgmental, free, accessible support remain unchanged, and we are poised to respond for decades to come.

1970 On April 14th, the Drug Information Centre opened its doors with the goal of providing unbiased drug information and education, crisis intervention and research anytime, day or night. In the first year of operation, The volunteers responded to 3,837 calls and 1,724 drop-ins.
1973 The Centre began to shift from purely drug related calls to a dual emphasis on crisis and addictions.
1975 The 24 hour crisis line was launched. With the introduction of crisis intervention services, the City of Calgary became one of the principle funders.
1977 The Drug Information Centre changed its name to Distress Centre/Drug Centre and was accepted as a member of the United Way.
1983 Teen Line was established to provide the youth of Calgary with a place to call that was specifically focused on their needs. This service was the first of its kind in Canada.
1990 Throughout the ‘90s, call volumes on the crisis lines grew by staggering numbers every year. The Distress Centre sought new avenues to secure additional sources of funding to meet the demands.
1999 Distress Centre continued to experience tremendous growth as we introduced several new programs and partnerships. These included partnerships with mobile teams such as the Mobile Response Team.

This paved the way for our current structure of effective partnerships and further established Distress Centre as an innovative leader in the community.
2005 Distress Centre, along with the City of Calgary and United Way, launched 211. This further established Distress Centre as the hub of crisis support and the “go-to” place for community referrals in Calgary.
2009 Due to the recession, all program areas noted the increase in complexity of issues as well as the increase in the severity of risk. To respond to the increased need, Distress Centre began to leverage social data from 211 to help with mapping issues in communities throughout the city, develop programs in areas of need, and targeting assistance to the hardest hit populations.
2010 Distress Centre's 40th Anniversary. The refreshed brand made its debut, along with the simplification of the crisis line services. Distress Centre consolidated to one memorable crisis line number, 403.266.HELP (4357). The promotion of this number aims at reducing confusion of what line to call,  so that people are getting help when they are in crisis, rather than searching for a number.
2011 Distress Centre announced the launch of their refurbished youth peer support program, ConnecTeen, which now, in addition to 24-hour phone support at 403.264.TEEN (8336), offers online crisis chat and email support online at calgaryconnecteen.com.
2012 Distress Centre launched online services by expanding their current service offerings to include daily online chat and email support at distresscentre.com. 

Following the June floods, Distress Centre responded to an over 40% increase in help-seeking calls to 211. In July, the 211 service is expanded to High River to help those impacted by the floods. 

In November of 2013, ConnecTeen announced the launch of their new youth peer support texting program, the first program of it's kind in North America. The texting service is now available to all Calgary & area youth from 5-10 pm daily by texting 587.333.2724. 

Meet our Executive Director

Joan Roy was named Executive Director for Distress Centre on June 10th, 2013. Joan specializes in suicide prevention and sits on the Calgary & Area Suicide Prevention Committee, Calgary Domestic Violence Coalition and the Canadian Crisis Centre Executive. She works closely with the Aboriginal community in the area of mental health and wellness.

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