Lifeline Macarthur's crisis call service expands

Dedicated Lifeline Macarthur volunteer Marc Whyte finds his role "very rewarding". Picture: Chris Lane
Dedicated Lifeline Macarthur volunteer Marc Whyte finds his role "very rewarding". Picture: Chris Lane

Lifeline Macarthur is helping to save more lives than ever before.

The charity organisation has installed five new phone lines at its Smeaton Grange crisis call centre to meet growing demand.

The 24-hour telephone line operates seven days a week fielding calls from people who are struggling with their mental health.

Lifeline Macarthur chief executive officer Brad Hannagan said the vital service had experienced an upsurge in calls over the past year.

"We had to install the new lines to respond to the level of demand," he said.

"Lifeline is recognised as one of Australia's most well-known crisis call centres and we will continue to grow the service."

In the past five years, the number of people contacting the Lifeline Macarthur crisis support line has doubled.

The number of people contacting the call centre rose by 27 per cent in the past year alone.

Mr Hannagan said the rise in calls could be attributed to general population growth and the change in attitude toward mental health awareness.

"The stigma around mental health is changing - and that is a good thing," he said.

"People are generally more open to talk about mental health issues now."

Statistics show men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women, and only 27.5 per cent of men with symptoms of mental illness are accessing professional services.

Mr Hannagan said three out four suicides in Australia were committed by men.

"It's a problem in every Western country - the numbers are similar in the US, Canada and the UK," he said.

"We need to do something to break down the walls and stop the stigma associated with mental health."

Lifeline Macarthur will also host a Men's Long Lunch on Friday, October 18.

The event aims to raise awareness of the mental issues affecting men. More than 200 people attended last year's inaugural long lunch.

The 2019 long lunch will be held at Rydges Campbelltown.

Mr Hannagan said tickets were already selling out fast.

"We had more than 200 men come last year," he said.

"We are hoping it will be even bigger this year.

"The feedback we had from the men who came along last time was that it was a safe space for men to share some of the tough times they had been going through with other men."

Guest speakers at the event will include former endurance runner Pete Wilson, Paralympian Erik Horrie and deputy commissioner of the Mental Health Commission of NSW, Allan Sparkes.

Any funds raised at the event will be used to support the crisis support line.

If you, or someone you know needs crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call 4645 7200 or email voluneer@lifelinemacarthur.org.au.

To attend the Men's Long Lunch, buy tickets here.