‘If we’re putting a price on lives, the Mind support line is invaluable’

Mind support line. Ben Marshall, team leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mind support line. Ben Marshall, team leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

I have never used the Mind support line. I unfortunately had to advance direct to hospital without passing 'go'.

In many ways, I was lucky. I had and have support around me, including my wife, parents, children, friends and colleagues.

When my mental health reached crisis point, the local crisis team was available and responded superbly.

I am still receiving counselling and superb support in the community. Nonetheless, even at the darkest moments, I have often asked myself the question: 'Where would I turn if I had no-one to turn to?'

Many people in that situation turn inwards on themselves, turn to self-harm, become reclusive, or even attempt suicide.

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Right now, though, there is a lifeline for those times when the crisis team is busy or outside of working hours.

The Mind support line fills a yawning gap in provision for people with mental health issues, and the 800 users a month are evidence of how much it is needed.

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So – and I am having to resist the urge to swear profusely at this point, and to use numerous exclamation marks – why on Earth is the funding being pulled? I've outlined the human side, but bean-counters are more likely to appreciate a cost-benefit analysis.

It costs £10,000 a month, and receives 800 calls during that time. That's £12.50 per call. Each call could be heading off self-harm or even saving a life.

So, if we are going to put a price on a life, I'd say that's pretty reasonable.

On our roads, huge amounts of money is spent on junction upgrades and safety improvements, in response to a few accidents. Nothing wrong with that. But typically, there is no such urgency when it comes to mental health support.

As someone who lives with mental illness, it hurts my heart to think of the people in desperate need who are now having their fingers trodden on as they cling to the edge of the cliff. It is disgusting.

I have to ask this: Do you care? Does it bother you that vulnerable people are being left exposed?

If you do, please support our We Mind appeal, to save the Mind helpline.I mind, because it matters.

•Sign the petition to save it here

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