Helpline gets call every two minutes
THE Samaritans answered a desperate call for help every two minutes over the past year, as crippling unemployment and financial woes took their toll on the nation's emotional well-being.
New figures, revealed in the Samaritans' first ever impact report, showed an additional 13,000 calls were made to its helpline as people struggled with worries about financial difficulties, relationships, unemployment, anxiety about the future, bereavement and self-harm.
Samaritans director Suzanne Costello said the levels of distress and anxiety were a cause for concern because calls to the helpline were more intense than ever before with people becoming very upset.
"Uncertainty about the future, particularly around the area of unemployment, is bothering people. It's been going on a long time now and it's wearing people down," Ms Costello said.
She also raised concerns over reduced funding in the areas of mental health.
"Now that the country is in such grave financial crisis, all of those at work in the area of suicide prevention must work more cohesively to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication of services," she said.
Junior Minister John Moloney admitted government funding was totally inadequate but stressed campaigns were addressing the stigma attached to admitting a mental health issue.
He said he was trying to keep mental health to the forefront of government spending and commended the Samaritans for supporting people long before the issue of mental health was recognised.
"We're far more dependent on the Samaritans to carry out similar work than we ever have been before," he said.
"The Samaritans have a proven track record of being able to be there for people and they are the group that reach out best to marginalised people," he added.
Between November 2009 and October 2010 almost 361,000 calls were made to the Samaritans helpline.
Confidential emotional support was given to 243,000 callers, an annual rise of more than 1,000 month.
For more information visit www.samaritans.ie or call their helpline on 1850 60 90 90.