Lifeline facing spike in calls

LIFELINE is struggling to cope with a massive rise in calls to its phone helpline, with thousands of Tasmanian callers hanging up after they were put on hold last year.

The organisation received 28,881 calls from Tasmanians in 2013, more than double the 2012 figure of 13,852.

The most common reasons for calling were family and relationships (7727 calls), self (6679), mental health (6061) and health and disability (4082).

Chief executive Jane Hayden said the rise in calls was not necessarily negative, pointing instead to an increased awareness of Lifeline's services and the importance of seeking help.

However, she said the organisation was struggling to meet demand, with 5238 Tasmanians hanging up last year after they were put on hold.

``We answer 75 per cent of our calls in five minutes, but there are a small percentage, depending on the hour of the day, who wait as long as 30 minutes and that's completely unacceptable,'' Ms Hayden said. She said the organisation needed additional Commonwealth funding to ensure it could meet demand, and had started a petition at www.change.org/lifeline.

Mental Health Council of Tasmania chief executive Darren Carr said he was concerned that so many were hanging up after being put on hold, as making the call was a big step for a lot of people.

``We also know that if people don't get the help that they need, or at least get some help on an initial contact, they may not call again,'' Mr Carr said.

A spokesman for federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said funding to Lifeline was increased to $25.4 million in the last funding period, to June 2015.

For information on Lifeline, visit www.lifeline.org.au.

 If you need help or counselling contact Lifelink Samaritans 1300 364 566, Lifeline 131 114, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800, MensLine Australia 1300 789 978, the StandBy Response Service 24-hour number on 0408 133 884, or   beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop