“The most important call I’ve made in my life”: Service Link phone line makes an impact in first year

“The most important call I’ve made in my life,” is exactly the feedback Island Health’s Mental Health and Substance Use program was hoping to hear following the launch of the Service Link phone line one year ago. 

This comment, recently submitted to Island Health by a Service Link caller, speaks to the need this new information line is filling. Staffed by addiction and recovery workers, Service Link connects callers to mental health, substance use, harm reduction, treatment and recovery resources in their community. The roughly 40 callers a month include individuals, family members seeking support for loved ones, and clinicians exploring options for patients/clients.  


Larissa McCormick, addictions and recovery worker 

“Often times the people who phone Service Link are reaching out for the first time to get help and don’t know where to start,” said Larissa McCormick, an addictions and recovery worker who has answered hundreds of calls since the service started January 31, 2023. “Every day we talk with people struggling with mental health and substance use. Accessing help shouldn't be stigmatized.”

“Service Link follows a person-centered approach giving the caller choices. We can transfer people directly to services and make sure they connect with a person to talk to and not just another phone tree, or we can pass along the information and they can choose when they want to call. Either way, callers can remain anonymous,” McCormick said. 

Service Link was implemented alongside the decriminalization of people who use drugs in B.C. This new resource line supports a public health approach and the goal of directing people who use drugs towards health and social supports. Service Link is one part of a larger strategy to reduce stigma of those who use substances, reduce injury and death from the unregulated drug supply and increase access to care and treatment for people who want support.

“Island Health is working across the continuum of care to meet people where they are. This includes prevention and early intervention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery and relapse prevention,” says Sheila Leadbetter, executive director, Mental Health & Substance Use. “Together, these initiatives tackle an incredibly complex public health emergency and support people who fall across the continuum of substance use to prevent, treat, manage and help recover from substance use disorders.”

Lin Lloyd, an addictions and recovery worker and mental health worker who also answers the Service Link phone line wants all callers or anyone considering calling to know: “You are very much not alone in your experience, and a problem shared is a problem halved.”


Lin Lloyd, addictions and recovery worker and mental health worker

Lloyd says Service Link also serves as an important preventive tool, “We are able to provide a resource with which people can engage before it gets “too bad”. This early engagement helps reduce the amount of cases that devolve into mental health crises, drug poisonings/overdoses and police encounters. Service Link helps people to help themselves.”

The Service Link number is 1-888-885-8824. This phone line is answered by an addictions and recovery worker daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If a call is not answered, callers may leave a message and will be contacted later that day or the next day. If someone is unable to get through the same day, HealthLinkBC 8-1-1 is available 24/7. 

Learn more about all of Island Health mental health and substance use services on our Mental Health & Substance Use Services web page.