Belfast Telegraph

Mental health helpline calls soar

Calls to a mental health helpline soared by almost 60% last month.

St Patrick's University Hospital said it heard from 213 people in crisis in January - compared to 134 in January 2011. Staff on its support and information line took a total 1,853 calls throughout the year.

Tom Maher, director of clinical services, said it was encouraging to see more people seeking advice earlier rather than suffering in silence.

"Many people that use our services have told us that they waited over a year before seeking help and some waited as long as ten years," he said. "International research has demonstrated that earlier intervention leads to better outcomes.

"Initiatives like the Mental Health Support and Information Line play their part in giving every Irish citizen quick access to professional mental health advice. It is hoped that this phone line will continue to prevent many people from reaching crisis point and lead callers in the direction of help."

Figures show callers included 324 people with depression, 258 had anxiety, 167 suffered from OCD, and 160 had addictions.

Paul Gilligan, chief executive of St Patrick's, said the rise in calls relating to depression and anxiety reflect the growing recognition of the warning signs.

"However people still do not always know who to turn to for help and advice about mental health or what service will best meet their mental health needs," he added.

"This phone line helps people of all ages and backgrounds across the broad spectrum of mental health issues to find the right service for them." The Support and Information service is available Monday to Friday 01 249 3333, with a voicemail and call-back facility.

Alternatively anyone in crisis can call 1Life Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1800 247 100 or The Samaritans on 1850 60 90 90.

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