Family Life

'It's mothers worried about their children': Mum spends 3 hours a week answering phone calls

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million people worldwide and approximately 450,000 people in Ireland are now living with depression.  

Figures also show that 45,000 people in Ireland are experiencing bipolar disorder.

As a result, Aware has seen a 20 percent increase in the volume of calls to their dedicated support line in the past twelve months alone.

In order to manage the increase in call volumes and ensure no call goes unanswered, Aware must add a new phone line to their current service to meet this demand – and they need 40 more volunteers to help man the lines.

One volunteer is Barbara Lawless, a mum-of-two who gives three hours of her week to answer calls and advise those who are struggling with mental health issues like depression. 

"I dipped into volunteer work over the years; the kids are reared and having struggled with a few issues myself, I have empathy for those on the other end of the phone," Barbara told MagicMum when asked why she decided to get involved with Aware. 

"The charity offers active listening and that is something that I could get on board with – I love talking!" 

The mum-of-two, whose kids are both in their twenties now, loves the work she does with Aware, not just because she is helping others but because it is something for her; a chance to meet other people and to "make a small difference to someone". 

And she credits the charity's training program for preparing her to answer all kinds of calls.

Here volunteers get involved in role play activities and group discussions – everything that they need to help prepare them for the calls, some that will no doubt be tough to listen to. 

And the calls come from all walks of life. 

Mothers who are fearful that their children are showing signs of depression, older people who are lonely, younger people looking for guidance – you never know who is going to call. 

“The Aware Support Line is a crucial lifeline to the one in ten people in Ireland experiencing depression,” said Brid O’Meara, Director of Services, Aware. “We know that it takes a huge amount of courage for callers to make that initial first contact with us, and without more volunteers and an additional phone line we are running the risk of those calls going unanswered.” 

“To be met with silence, having made that first call to us is the worst possible scenario for someone experiencing depression. For many, when they call our support line, it is the first time that they realise they are not alone. We know we can make a real difference to our callers and it is why we are asking the people in the Greater Dublin area to join our team and be a voice of hope for someone experiencing depression.”

Aware are looking for 40 more volunteers, and as part of the recruitment process, potential volunteers will be guided through a series of training sessions that will empower them with the tools to respond to callers in a helpful way.

Volunteers will be trained to point callers in the right direction to get the help they need and most importantly to be there to simply listen.

To get involved simply visit: or phone Aware on 01 6617211.

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