Edinburgh mental health crisis service sees 300% rise in calls since opening

An Edinburgh service which supports people experiencing a mental health crisis has seen demand for help rise significantly since it opened its doors 10 years ago.

The Edinburgh Crisis Centre provides immediate support for residents in the Capital who are experiencing intense and overwhelming mental health difficulties such as extreme anxiety or depression, and who may be considering suicide.

The Centre is unique in Scotland in offering quick-access one to one and short-stay residential mental health crisis support, alongside a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year confidential freephone, text and email support service.

Figures released by the Centre during Suicide Prevention Week (5 – 11 September 2016) show the number of people who called, texted and emailed rose from 392 between April 2007 and March 2008 – the first full year where data is available – to a peak of 1869 people for the year ending March 2014. This then fell to 1561 people last year, or around four people making contact with the Centre each day.

Even factoring in this slight fall, the Centre has experienced a rise of 300% on the number of people calling, texting and emailing compared to when it opened in August 2006.

Over the same period the number of visits to the Centre for one to one support has also risen from 138 in 2007-08 to a peak of 760 in 2013-14, before falling back to 620 for 2015-16.

The accumulative number of overnight stays at the Centre has also increased. Last year the centre provided a total of 325 nights of accommodation, up from 35 nights in 2008-2009 when it began offering short-stay residential support.

Edinburgh Crisis Centre Manager Barrie Hunter said:

“There is constant demand for support from the Crisis Centre. It is not unusual that we get several calls in the space of a few hours from people who are extremely distressed and need support immediately.

“Despite this I think there are still lots of people who don’t know we are here. It is vital that people know you can ring up and get face to face support, potentially on the same day, and stay overnight if you need to.

“As we mark our 10th anniversary we are particularly busy. Summer is usually a demanding time for us, not least because there are so many people in Edinburgh for the festival”.

Nigel Henderson, Chief Executive of Penumbra said:

“A mental health crisis is an extremely difficult thing to experience and it is vital people can access support quickly. Here in Edinburgh people can contact the Crisis Centre, but it is really concerning that similar provision isn’t available across Scotland, particularly in our big cities.

“We have a fantastic group of volunteers who help man the Crisis Centre phone lines and respond to emails and texts, and an amazing staff team who provide one-to-one support to people. As the service marks its 10th anniversary they really deserve our praise.”

To mark its 10 year milestone the Edinburgh Crisis Centre is holding a public event on 6 September at Leith Ex Servicemen’s Club, 7 Smiths Place, Leith. Malcolm Chisholm, former MSP and Minister for Health and Community Care, will speak at the event. More information can be found at: www.edinburghcrisiscentre.org.uk.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis you can contact the Edinburgh Crisis Centre on 0808 801 0414 (freephone), 0797 442 9075 (text) or email crisis@edinburghcrisiscentre.org.uk. A free translation service is available for people who do not speak English as their first language.


For more information please contact Robin Murphy on 0131 475 2569 or email communications@penumbra.org.uk.

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