Description of a rural Australian free call telephone mental health information and support service
Objective : To describe the activity of a rural-based free call 1800-Mental Health Information and Support Service (1800-MHISS) which provides a 24-hour single point of contact for people experiencing a mental health problem. Method : Routine data collected during a 15 month period concerning service utilisation, caller characteristics, service provision, triage assessment and the impact of the service on after-hours services are described. Qualitative data from a survey of emergency department and community mental health is discussed. Results : The service received an average of 1117 calls per month. While a majority of calls were for information and support, 13% required a triage assessment and, of these, 13% resulted in an emergency response. Analysis of pre and post study data demonstrated a 43% reduction in the activation of after-hours services. Conclusions : Overall, the study suggests the 1800-MHISS provides a safe and efficient response to psychiatric emergencies and is valued by Emergency Department and community mental health staff.