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Supporting mental health through Lifeline Text

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, and with many young people as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples turning to text to find support, it’s important that a full suite of crisis support services are available for those in need.

Since COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions began, Lifeline Australia has experienced almost 90,000 calls per month. And, while phone and chat services are available, funding constraints have previously seen Lifeline Australia limit their number of requests for support through Lifeline Text to 80 crisis interventions per day, leaving a significant proportion of people vulnerable.

In response, we’ve teamed up with nib to provide Lifeline Australia with $500,000 in funding which will allow the 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention service to expand their crisis text-based service, Lifeline Text, to meet the increase in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will allow Lifeline Text to provide over 10,000 additional crisis interventions in the coming year, as well as help train and manage 60 new volunteer crisis supporters. 

Introduced in response to research that found 30% of Aussies prefer to access support via short form messaging, Lifeline Text is accessed in higher rates by youth, those who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people living with a disability and the LGBTQIA+ community.

For example, more than half of people seeking help via Lifeline Text are aged under 24 years, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up 5.5% of users, despite representing 2.8% of the population in Australia. In addition, 40% of users reported having a disability.

The extension of Lifeline Text will also help support those living in rural and remote communities, who don’t have adequate access to landlines or internet connection. Increasingly, these barriers are often experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and with suicide rates almost double that of their non-Indigenous counterparts, access to mental health support services through a range of avenues is crucial.

By supporting the expansion of Lifeline Text and ensuring a full suite of crisis support services, such as Phone, Chat and Text are available, we hope that no person falls through the cracks and that everyone is given the opportunity to access the mental health support they need, when they need it most.

nib has also donated $30,000 in advertising space to Lifeline Australia, so they’re able to reach more Australians who may need support, during prime time slots.

This funding provided by nib and nib foundation is a part of nib’s COVID-19 member and community support package and $1 million commitment to ensuring communities across Australia and New Zealand are supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes, $150,000 in funding provided to Lifeline Aotearoa in New Zealand to enable an extra 2,300 hours of crisis support, which is estimated to be an additional requirement to suit the demand over the coming months.

For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services, Lifeline Australia is available to help. Phone 13 11 14 (24/7) or text 0477 13 11 14 (6:00pm – Midnight (AEST)). More information at lifeline.org.au

For more information, read our media release here.

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