Mental Health

Health written question – answered on 5th April 2005.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Minister (Children)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which specialist mental health helplines outside NHS Direct receive funding from his Department; and what the (a) remit, (b) types of mental health conditions handled, (c) geographical coverage, (d) opening hours and (e) the average length of calls were of each in the last period for which figures are available.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton The Minister of State, Department of Health

In December 1997, the Department launched the CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) telephone helpline in Manchester in response to the high rate of suicide and depression among young men aged 15 to 35 years old. The Department provides core funding for CALM, with local funding provided by local health and social care agencies.

The CALM initiative is aimed at raising awareness of depression amongst 15 to 35-year-old men and encouraging them to seek help. As part of this work, CALM provides a specialist national freephone mental health helpline for young men with feelings of depression that offers confidential information, advice, referrals and telephone counselling from specially trained professional advisers. While the campaign is targeted at young men, all callers will receive the same basic service, regardless of gender, age, culture or sexual orientation.

CALM's services are focused on Manchester, Merseyside and Bedfordshire and callers to the helpline from these areas will receive, in addition to the help and support already mentioned for all callers, information about local services.

CALM's helpline is available from 5 pm to 3 am seven days a week, 365 days a year. When the service is closed, callers receive a message that provides details of opening hours and the telephone number for the Samaritans, should the caller wish to speak with someone urgently.

The CALM helpline receives an average of 8,000 'interactive' calls every year, often long and in-depth. The average call time is 18 minutes. The helpline also receives many thousands of silent calls where the caller was not willing to talk.

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Posted on 14 Apr 2005 12:30 am (Report this annotation)

This sounds like a very good service why isn't it being rolled out across the country as there are far to few help lines offering counselling from professionals and covering such a good timescale as most problems occur at night and at the weekend especially

Anna M
Posted on 27 Jun 2005 3:48 pm (Report this annotation)

The question was about all mental health helplines receiving any funding by the Department for Health, yet only CALM is mentioned. Is CALM the only one? And, having seen CALM's adverts on buses, for example, I have to say that the emphasis on it being for men, without mentioning NHS Direct or The Samaritans, does come over as uncaring about women, who tend to suffer far more from depression, although women complete far fewer suicide attempts, whilst attempting more (women choose different methods). I take it the idea is to address the issue of men being less likely to talk about what is troubling them, but women who are isolated and have no one to talk with are in even more grave danger.