Taoiseach and Ministers Launch Your Mental Health Information Line:

FREEPHONE 1800 111 888

Improving accessibility to mental health supports & services

Today (Thursday 28 November) Taoiseach Mr Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris, T.D., and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mr Jim Daly, T.D., jointly launched a new dedicated information phone line for mental health, Freephone 1800 111 888.

The Your Mental Health information line, which commenced operating on a phased basis in October, provides signposting to mental health supports and services. Operating 24/7, the Freephone service provides information on how to access services provided by the HSE and funded partners across the country. Calls are strictly confidential; call takers do not ask callers for any personal information.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. said: “This new dedicated phone line will provide help to those suffering from mental ill health – and their families – to access information when they need it most. If you or someone close to you is feeling low, depressed or even suicidal, it can seem like you have nowhere to turn. This new service will connect callers with a trained team member who will provide information about the services available nationally and in their area.

“The Government has increased the budget for mental health significantly in recent years; we’ll spend just over €1 billion on mental health services next year. But we know many people still face huge challenges in accessing the care they require. I am pleased that the HSE and the National Ambulance Service are working together on this new information line, which we all hope will help people access mental health services when they need them.”

Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. said: “Today is an incredibly important day. This is a dedicated mental health information phone line for people who need information and assistance at what might be a very difficult time for them. The service information line represents an expansion to our Mental Health services, one of many significant developments and improvements that have occurred within mental health services over the past decade, since the publication of the national mental health policy, A Vision for Change in 2006.

This mental health information line will join an ever-growing suite of mental health services and I commend and thank all parties involved for bringing it to fruition. We will also roll out online counselling initiatives and a national crisis text line in the coming months.”

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly T.D. announced details of the new Information Line today: “On being appointed Mental Health Minister over two years ago, I instantly recognised that we had many excellent service providers throughout the country, however it also became apparent pretty quickly that the vast majority of people did not know what the different services providers offered, what was available in their area, or how to get in touch with them. I decided we needed to have universal access to the more than 1,000 HSE funded mental health services available to people across the country.

Today is the culmination of significant work over the past two years resulting in a team now being in place to take calls from the public on a 24/7 basis, all under one centralised telephone number. This dedicated service will connect callers with a team member who will provide information about the supports and services available both nationally and in their area. The Your Mental Health telephone service is another great example of how we can continue to improve and simplify accessibility to mental health supports and services through technology.”

HSE Mental Health and the National Ambulance Service will work in partnership to facilitate the Your Mental Health Information Line service. The team of call takers are based in the National Ambulance Service Headquarters. The team has received the standard training for emergency call takers within the National Ambulance Service as well as additional training from HSE Mental Health and the National Office of Suicide Prevention which included information on SafeTALK, ASIST, Understanding Self-Harm, and Bereavement initiatives to assist them in delivering an effective information service and to signpost callers to appropriate services.

Welcoming the announcement, Martin Dunne, Director of the National Ambulance Service, said:

“We are delighted to be playing a proactive part in this important service, in partnership with our Mental Health services colleagues, working together to ensure that this initiative adds value to service users. This telephone service is a welcome addition to the National Ambulance Services’ ability to assist the public, and we are delighted it is now live and freely available to those who need it.”

National Director, Community Operations, David Walsh, emphasised the importance of the new service, saying:

“This new service will complement our existing suite of mental health services, by ensuring they are as accessible as possible to the people who need them. This is part of a number of digital mental health initiatives that we’ve been developing over the past year. We have already seen a huge increase in traffic to our website; YourMentalHealth.ie since it was redeveloped last year and we have a number of other digital innovations in development including text based support and counselling online. The information line is now another way people can find out what services are available to them, particularly in their local area.”

The Your Mental Health Information Line is part of the overall Digital Mental Health supports project which aim to improve accessibility to mental health supports through technology. This project includes the redevelopment of yourmentalhealth.ie, the development of the Crisis Text Line service and the piloting of counselling online, Internet based CBT and tele-psychiatry.