Mental health telephone help-lines usually play a significant role in mental health services system. Their importance is substantiated during periods of financial crisis, where the mental health of the population is gravely inflicted. Media reports have documented a large increase in calls made to mental health telephone help-lines around the world as a corollary to the global economic crisis; however, a systematic investigation of this observation is still lacking. In this context, the present study endeavours to fill this gap in the literature, while it adds strength to the handful of studies which have empirically supported the impact of the financial crisis on mental health in Greece. Data were extracted from information gleaned during the calls made to the Depression Telephone Helpline of the Greek University Mental Health Research Institute. The information entailed the reason for calling, the socio-demographic and clinical profile of the person with mental health problems, his/her previous and current contacts with mental health professionals and the treatment he/she might be receiving. The results showed a steep increase in calls with direct or indirect reference to the economic crisis during the first half of 2010 and onwards. The callers who referred to the economic crisis manifested depressive symptomatology of clinical significance to a greater degree than callers who made no such reference. The latter exhibited increased levels of distress and agitation as well as drug/alcohol misuse. Concomitantly, a higher frequency of depressive symptomatology was discerned among the unemployed, whereas employed people were found to experience anxiety symptoms to a higher degree. The impact of the financial crisis on the mental health of the Greek population has been considerable, underscoring in this way the importance of mental health help-lines as emotional buffers and as guides for timely and appropriate service use in response to the emerging mental health problems.

Key words: Economic crisis, depression, mental health telephone help-lines, anxiety disorders, unemployment.

M. Economou, L.E. Peppou, E. Louki, A. Komporozos, A. Mellou, C. Stefanis (page 17) - Full article (Greek)