Calling Lifeline

Since July 2013, Aves Middleton has undertaken a PhD investigating frequent users of crisis helplines in the Department of General Practice. It has long been thought that frequent users are call crisis helplines for social support and are often considered as nuisance callers. However, these assumptions have never been investigated. Aves’ looked at the issue of frequent use from several angles; which, included surveying and interviewing a group of callers to Lifeline, Australia’s national crisis helpline; and analysing data from the diamond study, a longitudinal cohort study. She found that frequent users lack other people to turn to in moments of despair; however, these are not the only reasons driving them to call. They also have legitimate mental health issues and experience ongoing crises. The current crisis helpline service model is not designed to meet the needs of frequent users but they cannot simply be turned away. Aves has begun to collaborate with Lifeline to develop an alternative model of care that provides more continuous support to frequent users over time. The findings from both the survey and interviews studies conducted with callers to Lifeline were recently published in Patient Education and Counseling and Health & Social Care in the Community, respectively.

Aves’ also made it to the semi-finals of the Three Minute Thesis competition run by University of Melbourne where she successfully condensed her 80,000 word thesis into a three minute presentation. She is currently in the midst of finishing up her thesis before moving to Israel in November for a two-year research position where she will be evaluating community development programs from around the world.

We look forward to hearing of her ongoing success.