The number of distress phone calls made to NHS mental health services since 2019 have soared across Scotland as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
Figures obtained from NHS Scotland reveal that between 2019 and 2020 the average number of calls made to Breathing Space, a free confidential phone line for anyone in Scotland over the age of 16, was 9400 and had risen to 11,000 between 2021 and 2022.
The number of calls made to the mental health hub rose from 2000 to 8500 and the number of NHS Inform page views, a self-help resource for common mental health conditions, increased from 123,000 to 200,000 during the same time period.
In 2019 the mental health hub was a pilot service open four nights a week.
Since the summer of 2020 the service has been offered on a 24/7 basis.
NHS Scotland says it has seen a sustained increase in calls to their helplines since the beginning of the pandemic.
During the lockdown they recruited more advisers and supervisors to the Breathing Space service and expanded the Mental Health Hub to a 24-hour service operating from Glasgow and Dundee to serve the whole of Scotland.
Director of Service Delivery at NHS 24, Janice Houston, said: “Our priority is offering a compassionate service to everyone that contacts us about their mental health.
“We offer a choice of online and telephone services to people needing support through what continue to be challenging times.
“For anyone who is concerned for themselves or anyone else, we encourage you to explore our resources on NHS inform and find someone who can listen – whether that is a GP, friend, colleague, family member, or one of the specialist helplines available.”
NHS 24 offers a range of services to support people with mental health concerns including those in acute distress. NHS 24 mental health services are available to everyone in Scotland.
Services offered include listening, offering advice, and guidance to further help if required.
Mental Health services at NHS 24:
SilverCloud: Courses to improve mental wellbeing based on cognitive behavioural therapy. Secure, supportive, free, participants need an email address to sign up. Free access from www.nhsinform.scot/get-help-with-your-mental-wellbeing
NHS Inform: An extensive range of mental health resources is available atwww.nhsinform.scot/mental-wellbeing
NHS Inform also has resources for users of British Sign Language that cover mental health issues at www.nhsinform.scot/BSL
Breathing Space: A listening service available in the evenings (6pm to 2am weekdays) and 24 hours at the weekend (Fri 6pm to Mon 6am) on 0800 83 85 87. The web chat service can be accessed from www.breathingspace.scot.
111 Mental Health Hub: For those experiencing mental distress, symptoms or having medication queries, the 111 Mental Health Hub is available 24 hours a day, 7 days of the week by calling 111 and following the telephone prompts. Anyone may call. There is no upper or lower age limit.
Language Line: All NHS telephone services use the interpretation service Language Line, to support callers who cannot, or prefer not to, speak English. Language Line is private, confidential and free to use.
Relay UK: The Relay UK app can be used to contact all NHS 24 helplines.