Lives could be saved thanks to a new mental health support hotline, ministers say.
The 24-hour helpline will also give callers information on a range of services and networks across some 1,100 support groups.
Mental health minister, Jim Daly, said the new phoneline is akin to a special booking service while Health Minister Simon Harris said it could “save lives”.
Mr Harris said it will give people with mental health challenges direct access to services as opposed to searching websites and Googling for answers: “This is 24/7, any day of the week, anytime of the day. We know mental health challenges don't just disappear outside of office hours. They don't disappear on weekends. We know what can often compound the difficulties that any one of us can feel in relation to our mental health is that worry that you can't fight out or the inability to know where to go.”
The confidential 24/7 ‘Your Mental Health’ line will be run by the national ambulance service for callers to find out about services available in their area. The dedicated number is 1800 111 888. People manning the phoneline will get special training and already 400 people have been helped during a trial run.
Services such as the Samaritans, bereavement groups and suicide prevention help will be among the support that can be referenced to callers.
Mr Daly said he came up with the idea of the helpline to ensure all mental services could be contacted from one point.
Launching the service, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “Above all, we need to encourage people to speak about mental health issues that they may face, to help those who are in difficulty and to share the problems that we may face.”
Call teams operating the special phone support service have all received training in SafeTalk. SafeTalk is a special programme that prepares participants to recognise and engage with people who may be having thoughts of suicide.
Mr Varadkar said said that, while there are more than a thousand different mental services across the country, some services are not very well joined-up: "People find it difficult to find the right service for them at the right time and in the right place and this is a major attempt to alleviate that and make that better. We all know that maintaining mental health and well being is essential and positive mental health enhances our ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life, makes us more engaged, more productive, more content citizens.”