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Listening Out for Mental Health

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. A national Helpline, whose volunteers take calls from all over mainland UK, is playing its part to combat this awful situation

The sad death of Robin Williams served to draw attention to the ‘Cinderella service’ of health care in England – mental health. While a cancer scare gets you fast-tracked through to seeing a consultant, the wait to see a psychiatrist is about nine months.

The use of ‘talking therapies’ has been trumpeted by our coalition government.

“We can no longer have a health service that treats people physically but leaves them struggling mentally”, wrote Paul Burstow, MP for Sutton, when he was Minister for Care Services. Burstow, a staunch advocate for mental health issues, fell out with Number 10, and was moved out of office, and the initiative has clearly stalled.

Talking therapies requiring a listener, able to encourage and facilitate the ‘talker’.

FamilyLine, the Surrey based charity that provides a helpline for anyone wanting to talk through their particular issue or situation, has put together a guide to listening.

While their team of helpline volunteers are trained in skills of ‘active listening’, the ability to listen is an underrated talent, and FamilyLine have created a short guide to listening, to highlight the issue and assist anyone who may want to support a friend or family member through a bleak period or troubling issue.

You can download a copy of the guide from their website Listeningguide

Some of the simple but overlooked keypoints are

• try to put aside your own thoughts and concerns
• keep your mind clear to focus on the information being received
• make and maintain eye contact if possible
• listen with an open mind
• try to be silent, give the other person time to think and talk
• make noises to show you are listening, ‘mmm’, ‘uh-huh’, ‘yes’, ‘go on’
• listen to the underlying feelings, anxiety, conflicts as they talk
• clarify what you’ve heard, to avoid any confusion
• try not to think about what you might say next

Rather than ‘being busy’ or ‘embarrassed’, try to use these techniques next time someone approaches you with a need to talk. Or, should you or a loved one find yourself desperate for someone to talk to who will really listen to your situation, call FamilyLine on 0808 8005678.


Journalists : To interview Peter Sturge MBE, Chairman of FamilyLine, about their vital work on the front line of care, please e mail him first at

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of FamilyLine in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Health, Medical & Pharmaceutical, for more information visit