Calling for help: how crisis lines support Victorians' mental health

COVID-19 Crisis response Mental health promotion Pandemics Mental health Public health Victoria

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy for Victorians. Social distancing, stay at home orders, closure of nonessential activities, remote learning, masks and more have become part of our lives and lexicon in ways that were never contemplated. While these public health measures helped prevent death on a scale seen in so many other countries, they took their own toll. The analysis in this report shows the average daily calls from Victorians to Lifeline’s crisis line increased by 35 per cent during the pandemic.

Key findings:

  • In 2020, Lifeline Australia answered 237,777 calls from Victorians.
  • Demand is increasing. The daily average number of Victorian calls to Lifeline Australia’s crisis line have increased by 52%, from 580 per day in 2013, to 880 per day in 2021, well above population growth.
  • During the coronavirus pandemic, daily calls from Victoria increased by 35%. There appears to be a consistent association between the COVID-19 public health measures and Victorians’ mental health, with calls increasing, decreasing, and increasing again in line with lockdowns during the pandemic.
  • Victorian women are more likely to call Lifeline than men, and this increased significantly during the pandemic. During the second Victorian lockdown in 2020, monthly call numbers increased by 31% for women, but only 14% for men.
  • During the pandemic more Victorians volunteered to answer Lifeline calls than ever before – a 31% increase in volunteer hours, which was higher than the rest of the nation – yet additional paid staff were still required to meet high demand.
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