In A Grim Milestone, Lifeline Just Received Its Highest Ever Number Of Calls In A Day

The organisation says it expects demand to continue through the current lockdown period and beyond.

lifeline photo

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In another sad story illustrating the impacts of the pandemic, Lifeline Australia recorded its highest ever number of calls on Monday this week — a staggering 3,345.

However, the organisation’s chairman, John Brogden, signalled that it meant Australians weren’t suffering in silence — and that many people are reaching out for the first time.

“This has been a tough period for all Australians, and it has pushed many of those already struggling into crisis — but we’re glad they know help is out there,” said Brogden.

Support services have been swamped during the pandemic. Jason Trethowan, the CEO of mental health organisation Headspace, told a parliamentary committee hearing last September that “all parts of the system are under a fair amount of pressure.” He said the wait times to access services like ongoing psychological therapy, “could be around that four-week period [on average]. That’s not an unusual wait, unfortunately, for services like that.”

In the period of mid-March to late April this year, 15 million mental health services were funded by Medicare, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Though this data of course wouldn’t yet represent the impact of lockdowns that impacted several states from July.

In just the four weeks to April 25, 2021, “Almost 82,000 calls were made to Lifeline…an 18.4 percent increase from the four weeks to 28 April 2019,” the report reads. “Beyond Blue received over 22,000 contacts…an increase of 30.7 percent from the four weeks to 28 April 2019.”

Source: AIHW

Earlier this year, the Federal Government committed $278.6 million to funding the youth mental health Headspace program, while a Head to Health network for adults would open centres across Australia, supported by $487.2 million in funding.

At least for now, Lifeline expects the high demand to continue the current period and beyond, “because these kinds of events leave a long tail of trauma.”

“We want everyone to know that Lifeline is always there for them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Chairman John Brogden.

If you need help, you can reach Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.