Phoneline for Psychological Help while Waiting for the Bus

By Fiona Howard on December 05, 2011

Since 2008, a phoneline lead by clinical consultant psychologist Jim White has been helping anxious people fight the stigma brought about by mental illness. The said service is being offered in a deprived area in southeast Glasgow. Today, there are around 2,000 calls that were received by the said phoneline.

This project has been designed for people who want to seek help without having to see the GP in person. Basically, not all have the courage to talk about mental illness.

It was found that callers usually call during lunch break or while they’re waiting for the bus. This phone consultation offers a call-back service on the same day that the advice was given to the caller.

The idea behind the project is that people who suffer from serious psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, and so on can provide their details on a dedicated phone line which will be answered by professional GPs. This initiative forms part of the STEPS, a program that is aims to help people cope with stress and related problems.

To provide help, the clinician or counsellor will ring the callers back to offer them more comprehensive programs or services that suit their needs. People are called back within 9 hours from their initial call and because of this; they are helped in a timely manner. This scheme also motivates people to seek professional help in the future problems.

According to Dr White, 50% of people suffering from mental illness choose the phone line service instead of meeting face to face with a GP. Another advantage of this kind of service is that people can choose the best time that is most convenient to them. They will also not bother to go out or leave work just to consult a counsellor.

Rush of calls usually happen at night when people have more time to talk over the phone and can’t sleep. Dr White added that this service is an effective and less complicated approach especially for people in disadvantaged areas. He said "In more deprived areas there is a stigma about mental health problems and people don’t always want to go and see their GP and be seen in the waiting room”.

Dr White believes that other healthcare institutions should also adopt this phoneline to provide faster and more helpful services to people who are in need of professional help and support.

According to the NHS Confederation, there are many other institutions in England implementing the same project.

For more information about this service, please visit the BBC News.

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