Depression helpline needs volunteers

One of the country's busiest depression support services is calling for volunteers to join ‘and be a voice of hope for people seeking mental health support'.

The national charity, Aware, provides support, education and information services to people affected by depression and bipolar disorder. One of its key services - the Aware Support Line - needs 40 volunteers to join it.

This support line is a free service which offers crucial advice and support to those affected by depression and bipolar disorder, as well as their loved ones.

Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that over 300 million people worldwide are currently living with depression, including around 450,000 in Ireland. Some 45,000 people here are thought to have bipolar disorder.

Aware has recorded a 20% increase in the volume of calls to its support line over the last year. In an effort to manage this increase and in order to ensure no call goes unanswered, the charity needs to add a new phone line to its current service.

According to Brid O'Meara, Aware's director of services, the support line ‘is a crucial lifeline' to those experiencing depression.

"We know that it takes a huge amount of courage for callers to make that initial first contact with us, and without more volunteers and an additional phone line, we are running the risk of those calls going unanswered.

"To be met with silence, having made that first call to us, is the worst possible scenario for someone experiencing depression. For many, when they call our support line, it is the first time that they realise they are not alone," she explained.

As part of the recruitment process, potential volunteers will be guided through a series of training sessions that will empower them with tools to respond to callers in a helpful way.

Volunteers will be there to listen and when appropriate, to point callers in the right direction to get the help that they need.

One volunteer, David, described his role as ‘the most fulfilling thing I've ever done'.

"I think for the volunteering experience to work, you have to connect with what the organisation is trying to do, get good training and feel like you are well supported. My experience with Aware has ticked all these boxes and then some," he said.

If you would like to volunteer, click here or call Aware on (01) 661 7211.

If you want to contact the support line, call 1800 80 48 48.


[Posted: Thu 17/08/2017]

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