Lauren Chakkalackal, Research Officer:
"Myself and Kirsten from the research team, will embark this summer on an evaluation of a number of mental health helplines across England. The evaluation was commissioned by the Mental Health Helplines Partnership, a consortium of more than fifty organisations offering helpline services to people with mental health needs.
The aim of the project is to evaluate and demonstrate the value of their members’ helpline services. We are interested in looking at the future of mental health helplines, as new services are being introduced such as texting, mental health forums or email for more anonymity. These may create a disadvantage to traditional helplines.
Over the next few months, the team will consult with 14 member helplines, including Anxiety UK, Beat, CALM, Nightlink and YoungMinds.
In the first phase, we will be speaking with helpline staff about the usefulness of their helpline in terms of the results they help callers achieve. At the same time, we will be speaking with Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) across England to gauge their views on helplines and the possible impact if some helplines were to become obsolete.
Following the completion of the project, we hope to make recommendations to member helplines highlighting areas that are performing well and those that could be improved upon. We will be reporting our findings by Spring 2012.