It feels good!   



Since we opened our doors in 1970 we have been offering 24 hour crisis to Calgary and southern Alberta.

While the number of calls, email, chat and texts have increased, and our look and our name have changed, Distress Centre’s core values of 24 hour, non-judgmental, free, compassionate and accessible support remain unchanged.

  • 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 and 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

    Distress Centre sought to secure additional sources of funding throughout the ‘90s to meet the growing demand for crisis support.

  • 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 partnered with the City of Calgary and United Way, launched 211 Calgary. 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, Distress Centre responded to the increase in complexity of issues as well as 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 introduction of one memorable crisis line number, 403.266.HELP (4357).

  • 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

  • 2012

    Distress Centre launched online services by expanding their current service offerings to include daily online chat and email support at

  • 2013

    Following the June floods, Distress Centre responded to a 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, 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 daily by texting 587.333.2724.

    Distress Centre was selected by the Calgary Homeless Foundation to provide coordinated intake into Calgary’s homeless-serving system. Distress Centre’s CAA team operates out of the Safe Communities Opportunity and Resource Centre (SORCe), and assists people at risk of or experiencing homelessness by providing a single point of access to housing and support services.

  • 2015

    ConnecTeen online service hours were expanded to 3pm-10pm weekdays and noon-10pm on weekends. Distress Centre online chat hours were expanded to 3pm-10pm weekdays and noon-10pm on weekends.

    Distress Centre developed a new, bold 2016-20 Strategic Plan.

  • 2016

    211 played a critical role in supporting the Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo evacuees when wildfires ravaged the area in May. 211 provided evacuees with up-to-date information and connected donors/volunteers with agencies they could support. Online chat was launched province-wide to give evacuees another way to contact 211. 211 collateral and staff were also available at evacuation centres.

  • 2017

    A refreshed brand and website for ConnecTeen was launched in September.

    Our former Director of Operations, Jerilyn Dressler became our new Executive Director on June 1st.

  • 2020

    Distress Centre celebrated its 50th year of operations. In February, Distress Centre moved to new office space but due to COVID-19 pandemic, our operations went fully remote in March. There was no disruption to services. Since then, we have brought some volunteers and staff back to the office, while others have remained remote. Counselling is available by phone and video. Distress Centre’s programs at SORCe provided phone and outreach support until they were able to re-open their office to clients in November 2020 with safety measures in place.

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