Northern Ireland

Nearly half of calls to Samaritans last year related to mental health

Samaritan volunteers in Northern Ireland answered around 115,000 calls last year.
Samaritan volunteers in Northern Ireland answered around 115,000 calls last year. Samaritan volunteers in Northern Ireland answered around 115,000 calls last year.

SAMARITAN volunteers in Northern Ireland say nearly half of their calls last year related to mental health problems.

A new report from the listening charity highlighted the ongoing impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the public’s wellbeing.

With 115,000 calls answered by 600 volunteers in eight branches last year on topics ranging from family problems, relationships, loneliness and isolation, 47% of them were from those struggling with their mental health.

Marcella Taylor, Samaritans Northern Ireland Regional Director, said that one-in-five adults in Northern Ireland will have a mental health condition at any one time, with around half of all women and a quarter of men experiencing depression at some point in their lives.

“People who are struggling with mental health issues can often find it difficult to talk about it with fear of being judged,” she said.

“We all need to allow ourselves and others permission to talk when we’re feeling sad or overwhelmed.  That’s why the Samaritans’ message is so important. When someone knows that they are not alone, and that people are there to listen, it can make all the difference. It’s something to hold onto in the most difficult of times.”

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Sarah O’Toole, Executive Director of Samaritans Ireland, said the sheer volume of calls recorded showed the continued need to help people in distress.

“Our vision is that fewer people die by suicide and to achieve this, we believe Samaritans has a crucial role to play in reducing the risk factors that make some people more likely to take their own lives,” she said. 

“We are focused on being there when people need us most, and on supporting vulnerable individuals across society, including reaching those at heightened risk of suicide”.

“It has been a challenging time, but we are proud to say that Samaritans successfully navigated these difficulties and continued to provide essential support to those in need, 24 hours a day. We cannot thank our volunteers enough for their ongoing dedication to our callers.”

Nearly half of those who contacted Samaritan volunteers were concerned about their mental health.
Nearly half of those who contacted Samaritan volunteers were concerned about their mental health. Nearly half of those who contacted Samaritan volunteers were concerned about their mental health.

The Samaritans’ Impact Report also revealed that 9,000 calls for help had been answered from people in prisons, that an average call for emotional support lasted 22 minutes.

The busiest day of the week was Tuesday while the busiest hour of the day was 8pm.

Anyone can contact Samaritans for free at any time of day from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit.

The number does not show up on a phone bill and more information can be found at www.visitsamaritans.org.