Helpline to direct people to mental health services set up
New 24/7 helpline will direct people towards most appropriate mental health service
The health service has set up a 24/7 helpline run by the National Ambulance Service that will help direct people seeking mental health care to the most appropriate service. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan
The health service has set up a 24/7 helpline run by the National Ambulance Service that will help direct people seeking mental health care to the most appropriate service.
The phone line has been live since September and has received more than 400 calls to date.
Launching the service in a National Ambulance centre in Tallaght, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said mental health services were well funded “but it is often the case they are not well joined up, they overlap or there’s gaps”.
The phone line, 1800 111 888, was a “practical solution that will make a difference,” he said.
Anne O’Connor, HSE chief operations officer, said the freephone line was a “signposting” service to guide people to the best place to seek care. In many cases “people don’t know what is available to them,” she said.
Minister for Health Simon Harris said it was important the phone line was open during all hours of the day and night. “Mental health difficulties do not disappear at five o’clock or at the weekends,” he said.
However, he added the Government were “not just launching a telephone line when it comes to mental health.” In the coming weeks an update on the Vision for Change mental health policy, launched a decade ago, would be brought before Government, he said.
Martin Dunne, director of the Ambulance Service, said staff with training in mental healthcare would be running the phone line, and the service had received no complaints since it went live in September.
Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Jim Daly said currently there were up to 11,000 different mental healthcare services and organisations in the country.
“Who knows the difference between Alone, Aware, Pieta House, Jigsaw, all of these different services, [AND]what do they do. This is an appropriately trained professional in the mental health area who will take your call,” and direct the individual to the most appropriate service, he said.