Tel-Aide Montreal trains volunteers in the art of empathetic listening to receive calls from individuals suffering from psychological distress, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts. We spoke with volunteer coordinator Melissa Johnson to find out more about them.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Tel-Aide Montreal trains volunteers in the art of empathetic listening to receive calls from individuals suffering from psychological distress, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts. Our mission is to contribute to the mental well-being of the community through listening.
What problem does it aim to solve?
We aim to combat loneliness as well as psychological distress through empathetic listening. Our volunteers are there to lend an ear to anyone who feels the need to confide their feelings to someone in complete confidentiality and without judgement.
When did you start/join it?
I took the active listening training in 2018 to become a volunteer and became part of the administrative team several months later.
What made you want to get involved?
I was feeling unfulfilled at my job and was looking to get involved in the non-profit sector. I didn’t know this type of service existed before doing some research. I felt interpolated by the mission and felt I possessed the qualities of a good listener. I wanted to help people who felt imprisoned by their thoughts or their issues, or who felt completely alone. I wanted to show them that there are people out there who care and who will take the time to listen to and validate what they are going through.
What was the situation like when you started?
I started a couple of years before the pandemic arrived.
There has always been a need for mental health services, but the topic has seen a lot more coverage since 2020. Our organization was deemed an essential service because people need to be heard, they need human connection and compassion, especially people who are isolated or suffering from mental health issues. Tel-Aide Montreal is there for them.
How has it changed since?
We have gained more visibility in the last 2 to 3 years, which is great since the need for these types of services has increased. Everyone can benefit from active listening, and we noticed a lot more variety in the types of calls we were receiving when covid started.
What more needs to be done?
We strive to offer our service between 7 am and 11 pm, 7 days a week, and we need more volunteers to be able to do so. We also need more funding to be able to give our volunteers the support that they need to keep going.
How can our readers help?
They can talk about the service to people who might be in need of it, or they can get involved by applying to become active listeners. We are always looking for kind-hearted people to join our team of volunteers.
Do you have any events coming up?
We have active listening training sessions starting at the end of April and around mid-June, and we are looking for English speakers who would like to join us.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Suicide Action Montréal, a suicide prevention centre.