Sixth of Samaritans calls over crisis
One in six calls to the Samaritans in Ireland is related to the economic crisis.
The charity recorded its busiest ever year in 2012, with over 400,000 calls to volunteers.
The organisation said it had experienced more complex and detailed exchanges with people than ever before, and a “marked increase” in the number of calls specifically linked to the recession.
Launching its 2012 Impact Report in Dublin today, the charity said it had recorded a 17 per cent increase in personal "face to face" interaction at branches throughout the country.
“Calls to our service are lasting longer and are more intense in nature, reflecting the complexity of many people’s lives,” said Suzanne Costello, executive director. “On average, calls during 2012 lasted six per cent longer than they did last year.”
However, it is not all bad news. The organisation said that while the volume of contact had increased, it was a positive sign that people felt they could reach out.
“This may be linked to ongoing work to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and the proactive work of Samaritans’ branches within the local community,” said Ms Costello.
In total there were 412,167 calls over the past 12 months, an increase of 3 per cent on the previous year. That translated to 57,410 hours of "listening time".
Nearly 7,000 people received one-to-one support while the charity found that one in six of the calls were linked to the ongoing recession and its impact on people’s lives.
Samaritans national chairman Pio Fenton said: “Money is an issue that seems to be causing more and more difficulty and the nature of calls we receive reflects that.
“This year we have seen the strongest evidence yet that the recession is affecting the emotional health landscape of the country.”
The rise in recession specific calls was described as “dramatic”.
“There has been a real hardening of despair amongst many of those who contact us; people struggling to cope in the face of uncertainty around employment, personal debt and other financial concerns,” said Mr Fenton.
Family and relationship problems, depression, mental health issues, loneliness, stress and anxiety were also common themes in calls to the organisation.
Launching the report, Minister of State for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch said: “As we approach the Christmas holidays, I know Samaritans volunteers are scheduling round the clock shifts to ensure they are available to those who need emotional support.”