Surge in calls to mental health helplines

Charity warns of "huge demand" for mental health support as impact of welfare cuts and recession bites.

Mind reports a surge in calls to its helpline
Mind reports a surge in calls to its helpline

Mental health charity Mind has seen a surge in enquiries to its helpline and legal support service in the last year, figures reveal.

Mind’s helpline handled 45,930 enquiries in 2011/12, an increase of 10% from 2010/11. The charity’s legal advice service saw a 30% rise in cases during the same period, with staff dealing with 9,554 enquiries in 2011/12 compared to 6,681 the previous year. 

The number of calls relating to finance and employment have doubled since the recession, the charity said. Call advisors have also seen a sharp rise in welfare-related enquiries since the government introduced its controversial work capability assessment programme in 2008.  

Mind said it is struggling to meet the “huge demand” for mental health support. Two in five calls to Mind’s helpline currently go unanswered and the charity warned that its network of 166 frontline mental health services  – which offer support including crisis helpines, drop-in centres and supported housing – was facing a double whammy of growing demand and funding pressures.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “The era of austerity shows little sign of abating and more and more people need our help. At the same time the local Mind network is facing the challenging situation of increased demand for services and potential cuts to funding.”

“For many people Mind’s Infoline is their first port of call for advice when they just don’t know where to turn. We want to be able to answer every cry for help but sadly last year 40 per cent of calls to our Infoline went unanswered.”

Health minister Simon Burns said: “We are boosting funding for talking therapies by £400m over four years from April 2011. This will ensure that evidence-based therapies are available to all who need them.”

Image: Jason Alden/Rex Features

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