A trial to address the complex needs of counselling helpline callers

Kitty Vivekananda, Helen Bamford, Caroline Allen, Ann Evans, Alan Woodward, Suzanne Leckie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Addressing the complex needs of caller who use helplines frequently has proved challenging for counselling helplines around the world. This paper examines the feasibility and acceptability of a telephone intervention called the Wellbeing Support Program (WSP), designed to address the needs of this group. Methods: A mixed methods approach involving quantitative clinical data and thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with frequent callers was used to evaluate the Wellbeing Support Program (WSP). Three counsellors from SANE Australia delivered the program and collected non-identifying telephone counselling data between June 2017 and February 2018. Researchers from Monash University undertook 20 semi-structured interviews with 15 participants and conducted analysis of the data. Results: The complex and diverse needs of frequent callers posed challenges for the feasibility of the WSP. However, callers expressed a high level of acceptability with the key features of the WSP including the continuity of care; the opportunity to explore things in greater depth; regularity; reliability; safety; trust; professional competence; and empathy and human connection. Discussion: This research provides valuable insights into the ongoing support needs of people who have experienced early childhood adversity and social disadvantage, highlighting the importance of being person centred and trauma informed. The results identify gaps in a fragmented mental health system and highlight a need to design an advanced model of care that sees General Medical Practitioners, mental health professionals and crisis helplines collaborating to provide an integrated approach to improving outcomes for those in most need.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)152-163
    Number of pages12
    JournalAdvances in Mental Health
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • callers
    • complex needs
    • Frequent
    • helplines

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