Belfast Telegraph

New mental health helpline a ‘signpost’ to services

The confidential line operating 24/7 is aimed at helping people navigate the 1,100 mental health services across the country.

File picture of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pinning on a Green Ribbon as part of See Change’s mental health campaign (Brian Lawless/PA)
File picture of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pinning on a Green Ribbon as part of See Change’s mental health campaign (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

A new mental health helpline will attempt to alleviate the difficulties people have in finding the right service at the right time, Leo Varadkar has said.

The confidential line operating 24/7 is aimed at helping people navigate the 1,100 mental health services across the country.

The Your Mental Health information line provides signposting to mental health supports and services.

The freephone service provides information on how to access services provided by the HSE.

The Taoiseach, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly launched the service in Tallaght on Thursday.

The helpline has already received over 400 calls since it came into operation in September.

Mr Varadkar said said that, while there are over a thousand different mental services across the country, some services are not very well joined up.

“People find it difficult to find the right service for them at the right time and in the right place and this is a major attempt to alleviate that and make that better,” he said.

“We all know that maintaining mental health and well being is essential and positive mental health enhances our ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life, makes us more engaged, more productive, more content citizens.

“The helpline will help us to find information on mental health services that are located near us and that’s something that we might all need at some time in our lives.”

The history of our country has been a history of the struggle for freedom, political, economic and social, and we now need to win the freedom to live our lives free from fear and judgment about mental health issues Leo Varadkar

He said that while technology has helped the world become closer, it has also made people more disconnection.

“We probably talk a little bit less less than we did in the past,” he added.

“So this helpline launched today can and will connect people to the right service at the right time.

“But it doesn’t it seek to replace the fact that we all need to connect to each other and doesn’t devalue the importance of human contact, and above all we need to encourage people to speak about mental health issues that they face, to help those who are in difficulty, and to share the problems that we may face.

“The history of our country has been a history of the struggle for freedom, political, economic and social, and we now need to win the freedom to live our lives free from fear and judgement about mental health issues.”

Anne O’Connor, chief operations officer of the HSE, said that one of the criticisms within the health service is that people do not know what is available to them.

“They don’t know where go or to find out how to access services and this information line seeks to address that,” she added.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that more progress is needed to address the stigma that exists around mental health.

He called for more conversations around the impact of social media and technology.

“We also need to look at how we build resilience in all of us as people, and it can’t be the whole Homer Simpson analogy of can’t someone else do it,” he added.

“We all have a role to play in this regard as citizens to de-stigmatise mental health.”

The freephone number is 1800 111 888.

PA

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