Thank you for your interest in becoming a volunteer with Crisis Services Canada. Federal grants are available to students who successfully complete commitment levels in a volunteer position that supports their community's COVID-19 response (more information here). In addition to volunteer crisis responders, we are looking for the following:
Crisis Responder Volunteer
Training programs are currently at capacity, we are not accepting additional applications for 2020.
Check back for opportunities in 2021 or contact your local crisis centre to ask about their training programs.
Raise funds in your community to support Crisis Services Canada's life saving work.
No positions are currently available, please check back soon.
Organize a fundraising event or volunteer at one of ours.
No positions are currently available, please check back soon.
Volunteer Crisis Responder
What does a volunteer crisis responder do?
- Volunteer crisis responders respond to incoming interactions from people with concerns related to suicide, offering emotional support and resources, and carrying out a suicide risk assessment to determine the level of risk to the service user.
- Volunteer crisis responders work from a private and secure home-based location, adhering to CSC standards of practice in the delivery of crisis intervention and suicide prevention support. They provide non-judgmental emotional support and suicide risk assessment. They work collaboratively with the service user and may offer referral information where appropriate. In a small number of cases, responders may initiate an active rescue, to ensure the safety of someone at risk.
- Volunteer crisis responders respect service user confidentiality. They uphold the highest ethical and legal standards and do not share information on interaction content to any unauthorized personnel.
- Volunteer crisis responders are supported by experienced supervisors offering assistance, support and debriefing, as required.
What you will gain from being a volunteer crisis responder:
- You will obtain training and support in effectively assessing and de-escalating crisis and high stress situations.
- You will develop communication/interpersonal skills.
- You will gain experience supporting people across a range of issues including mental health, addictions, interpersonal relationships, suicidal ideation and abuse.
- You will develop self-awareness, reflections and self-care.
- You will gain experience to support future careers in mental health, counselling, community support, education, emergency services, etc.
- You will make a tangible difference in others' lives and feel connected to the community.
- You will be part of a supportive team and create lasting friendships.
On completion of the responder commitment, responders receive a certificate of completion/reference letter to support applications to higher education and employment.
Who should apply?
- You are 18 years of age or over.
- You have excellent command of communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to offer active listening, empathy and patience.
- You have the ability to be level-headed in a crisis.
- You have the strong ability to work both independently and within team environments.
- You demonstrate self-awareness in areas such as: coping, stress-management and emotions.
- You have the ability to receive developmental feedback.
- You are non-judgmental, accepting of diverse values and beliefs, and open-minded to callers with a variety of concerns.
- You have excellent computer skills.
- You are willing and able to follow policies and procedures.
What we expect:
- Responders adhere to CSC policies and practices in providing the highest standard of care to service users.
- Responders adhere to their commitment and complete the minimum hours required.
- Responders strictly adhere to their confidentiality agreement and do not disclose any information regarding service users outside the agency.
Training Information and Schedule
We are currently accepting applications to the volunteer crisis responder training program.
Volunteers are not required to have prior knowledge or experience in crisis support. We offer comprehensive training to all new volunteers in topics including, but not limited to: crisis intervention, suicide risk assessment, safety planning, mental health issues, struggling with addictions, relationship issues, intimate partner violence and abuse. The volunteer responder training program includes the following modules:
- Crisis intervention training – 32 hours
- CSPS training and set up – 4 hours
- Skills observation and support – 16 hours
Note: the volunteer crisis responder training is a virtual program offering flexibility on when you study. However, trainees that do not complete the training within a specified time period will not graduate or will be asked to repeat the training.
All sections of the training program must be completed. The training program is a mutual screening process. Acceptance to the program does not guarantee that applicants will be approved to take CSPS interactions. Only candidates that meet the requirements and can demonstrate they have acquired the necessary skills will be scheduled shifts.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Complete the online application form
- Suitable candidates will be offered a virtual interview
- Applicants may be asked to role play an interaction to demonstrate skills/potential
- Successful applicants will be offered a place on a future training program
- All applicants must go through a police information and vulnerable sector check
All volunteers receive 60 hours minimum of intensive basic training covering topics such as crisis and suicide intervention, youth issues, bereavement, mental health, communication skills, addictions, domestic violence, and abuse. The training focuses on developing the right skills, knowledge and attitudes. It begins with self-study, quizzes and written assignment and is reinforced with group discussion and supervisory feedback. Role plays play an important role in offering skills practice and building confidence. Observation and supervision ensure that the transition from trainee to responder is not sudden and the candidate feels supported throughout the process. Supervision is accessible and continuous.
CSPS specific training is also offered ensuring responders are comfortable with the technology and processes required of a responder.
Continuing education and skills development courses are offered to responders to ensure the development is ongoing and up-to-date.
Volunteers are expected to complete 48 shifts over the course of a year: on average 1 shift per week. New volunteers are also expected to complete one overnight shift per month. Volunteers can complete shifts with more frequency if they choose. The purpose behind the 48 shifts a year is:
- To be able to ensure the lines always have adequate coverage.
- To acquire the experience needed to absorb and apply the knowledge and skills learned in training to become an effective crisis intervention responder.
- To balance the investment CSC puts into training each responder.
While we understand that life circumstances can be unforeseeable, we encourage potential volunteers to wait till a time in their life they have confidence they can complete the commitment. We understand that certain life events happen and can occur unexpectedly. The expectation is that volunteers maintain communication with the agency.
Shifts on the crisis lines are four hours.
Volunteers can request their preferences for shift assignment. The ability to meet requests and assign all the shifts requested depends on the amount of availability and flexibility of the responder.
CSC encourages ongoing knowledge and skills development. Responders will be offered advanced courses in areas of crisis intervention, mental health and community support, as their skills develop.
Responders are always supported by supervisors, offering guidance, support, referrals and feedback.
Most service users have a concern about suicide, either for themselves or someone else. In most cases, they are looking for emotional support or referral information. In a small number of cases (around 2%) there is a perceived risk to the safety of the service users. In such cases the responder will work with the service user to ensure safety. This may involve contacting emergency services and other authorities. Responders have a duty to take action whenever there is a risk to the health/safety of a service user, or a risk to a child.
CSPS operates 24/7, supporting communities regardless of age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture and religion. Service users have a concern about suicide that could be for themselves or someone else. It may involve current ideation or something from the past. Concerns often involve other issues, including emotional distress, mental health challenges, bereavement, marginalization, intimate partner violence, abuse and suicide.
Volunteers are expected to fulfill the minimum commitment of 200 hours in order to receive a letter of reference for employers or graduate programs.