Increase in the number of calls to the Samaritans from mental health patients

  • The Manchester branch of the Samaritans has said it's been dealing with thousands of extra calls over the past twelve months, which take the total to over 41,000./images/mentalhealth.jpg

    The Samaritans say that they are seeing a large rise in the number of calls from people with mental illnesses as patients say they have no-one to turn to at evenings and weekends, reports the Manchester Evening News.

    Sue McDonald, Manchester Samaritans director, said: "We are very much busier than two years ago and have noticed at evenings and weekends we get more and more calls from people with mental health problems who have been told to ring us because there is no-one else available. You say ‘do you not have a care worker?' but they say ‘they've told me to call the Samaritans because they're not available'. We have a part to play in emotional support but should certainly not be seen as a service for complex medical care and that seems to be happening. Often [the people who ring us] are not very impressed with the mental health services. These are people often living very isolated lives and it is the human-to-human contact that they need."

    A survey by the Care Quality Commission found that only six in ten patients at two mental health trusts in the region had out-of-hours phone numbers so that they could reach people in a crisis.

    A Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust spokesman said: "All users of MMHSCT services are given contact details for their care co-ordinator and the crisis line number, so that they can call at any other time should they require support. Our crisis line is fully staffed out of hours and is always answered. Our system does not allow this line to simply ‘ring out'."

    A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW) said: "All our patients have access to out of hours telephone helplines, which provide a 24-hour service, 365 days a year. Emergency support for people in a mental health crisis is at the top of our agenda and we have recently agreed to invest further in telephone helplines and additional support for our patients and their carers requiring immediate attention due to a severe mental health problem. We would welcome any information that the Samaritans have got about existing mental health patients contacting them, so we can continue to improve mental health crisis care."

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