A HSE mental health helpline provided more than 1,000 ‘rescues’ during the pandemic.
Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond, who secured the information from the HSE, said it is vital continued support is provided for the HSE’s 50808 mental health text helpline to ensure its continuation
Deputy Neale Richmond said: “The HSE’s 50808 mental health text helpline provides immediate emotional support on a rolling 24/7 basis to anyone experiencing a mental health crisis.
“Figures released to me from the HSE show that over the course of the pandemic, the helpline saw a staggering 60% increase in active rescues for those in a crisis, reaching 654 in 2021, up from 410 in 2020. A rescue refers to when a supervisor contacts emergency services to secure the physical safety of a texter when the texter is unable or unwilling to.
“With a further 314 rescues in the first six months of 2022, it is clear that the need for this service has not reduced as we have emerged from the pandemic restrictions.
“The figures clearly illustrate the importance of this service; 1,378 people were provided with emergency mental health support by trained volunteers since the onset of the pandemic.
“Since its inception in 2019, over 3,753,422 messages have been exchanged between users and volunteers in 113,859 conversations initiated by users of the service.
“With this service still in its infancy, Minister Donnelly must provide a guarantee that it will be maintained into the future and made a priority for the HSE.
“The pandemic took a steep toll on many people’s mental health and services such as the helpline are a crucial way to provide immediate, 24/7 support to those in need, without long waiting lists, costs or face-to-face interaction which may be intimidating to those in a crisis.
“With Budget 2023 fast approaching, now is the time for Minister Donnelly to reaffirm his commitment to providing this vital service now and well into the future”, Deputy Richmond concluded.