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.
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.