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Pandemic sparks highest-ever demand for Lifeline help

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Mental health counselling service Lifeline faced a tsunami of desperate calls in March, recording its highest monthly total in the organisation’s 56-year history.

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There has been unprecedented demand for its help line, exposing the scale of the mental health crisis coronavirus has caused in Australia.

Lifeline’s Brent McCracken says the help line has been swamped by desperate, lonely and fearful people.

At the height of the crisis, the service received 24,000 calls a week, with March now holding the title of the highest monthly demand in Lifeline’s history.

Good Friday was the worst day of all, with some 3200 calls for help.

“They are everybody, I think,” McCracken said, as the Queensland government pledged $3.5 million to help the service cope with demand.

“(People) losing their business, losing their job, finding themselves without other people around them, having a lack of social contact,” he said.

“Many are facing circumstances they could never have envisaged they’d be in. Many are feeling their life is becoming worthless.”

Despair spawned by isolation was the other primary driver.

“The theme we’re getting a lot is how lonely people are, isolated people are. They don’t have anyone else to turn to and they don’t know how to move forward in life,” McCracken said.

He thanked the government for the funds, saying Lifeline’s revenue had taken a dramatic dive due to the forced closure of their op-shops.

He said the organisation was determined to ensure no call went unanswered.

-AAP

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