Answering the call that may save a life

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Department of Human Services employee Holly* is one of 11,000 people who volunteer for Lifeline every year but when someone reaches out in their time of need, she’s one in a million.

Lifeline is a national charity that gives all Australians anonymous access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

“Initially, I wanted to volunteer at Lifeline because I was interested in finding out more about mental health and how to help people who are struggling,” Holly explained.

“However, it wasn’t until I completed training and started taking calls that I realised the extent of mental health concerns in the community. While not every call is related to mental health, many are affected by it in some way.”

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and rally in support of mental health.

“I think it’s great that days like World Mental Health Day shine a light on the mental health problems experienced by so many people,” Holly said.

Lifeline is a national charity that gives all Australians anonymous access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

People are encouraged to call Lifeline when they want to talk about crisis of any type – including suicidal thoughts or attempts, abuse and trauma, domestic violence, relationship concerns, depression, anxiety, grief and loneliness.

While relatively new to being a telephone crisis counsellor, Holly enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to give back to others.

“Hearing about the situations everyday people find themselves in is a really eye-opening experience. I’ve learned so much more than I could’ve imagined.”

Somewhere in Australia there is a new call to Lifeline made every minute.

“We receive excellent training and support because, obviously, we’re talking to people who are in crisis, and some experiences are more challenging than others.

“One of the first things we’re taught is that everyone’s crisis is different, so it’s important to understand that what the caller is going through is very real and overwhelming for them,” said Holly.

“It’s my role to calm them, listen and offer referrals that will help them manage their circumstances in a safe way.”

These days Lifeline isn’t just limited to taking phone calls. They also offer crisis support chat, where people can talk to a counsellor online.

There’s also self-help information available for people looking for information for themselves or are supporting friends and family through difficult times.

“For anyone thinking about volunteering for Lifeline, I can’t recommend it enough,” Holly said.

“It’s challenging, but also rewarding. There aren’t too many things you can do with your spare time where you can literally save a life.

“Knowing I’m playing a small part in helping people find their feet again inspires me to go back for more.”

*Last name has been removed to retain anonymity of volunteer.

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