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Lifeline Report: TELL’s Lifeline 2016


TOKYO, January 17, 2017 – In 2016, TELL, a not-for-profit organization that has provided mental health support and counseling services to Japan’s international community for over 40 years, handled nearly 6,800 calls for support via its free and confidential Lifeline service. Although the majority of calls were from people wanting to discuss feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and relationship issues, the Lifeline also saw a 43 percent increase in calls from people considering suicide. The majority of callers were working age women, and 60 percent of callers were Japanese.

Over the past four years, TELL has significantly improved its coverage of Lifeline shifts, from 92.6% in 2013 to 99% in 2016. Increased shift coverage has meant the Lifeline has been able to handle significantly more calls: call volume was up eight percent in 2016 over the previous year.

A significant contributor to improved Lifeline coverage was TELL’s opening of a telephone counseling facility in Kobe in March 2015 to accommodate Kansai-resident volunteer telephone counselors. The expansion to Kansai has contributed to increased numbers of volunteer phone counselors graduating from TELL’s intensive training program, and at the end of 2016 a record 101 phone counselors were actively working Lifeline shifts.

“The steady increase in volunteer numbers over the past few years has enabled us to cover nearly all our scheduled shifts and moves us closer to our goal of providing 24/7 English-language Lifeline support service throughout Japan,” said Vickie Skorji, Director of TELL Lifeline. “But while we handled more calls last year, we also saw an increase in calls from people considering suicide, and a significant increase in calls to our answering machine during nighttime hours when the Lifeline is not in operation. This year we will introduce text/chat-based Lifeline services, which will allow us to provide round-the-clock coverage at least a few days per week, as well as better reach young people, who comprise a disproportionately small percentage of Lifeline callers.”

TELL Lifeline provides free, anonymous and confidential counseling and emotional support in times of crisis, and connects people with other mental health resources. TELL Lifeline receives over 6,500 calls a year from all over Japan, of which roughly 60 percent come from Japanese citizens and 40 percent from Japan-resident foreigners.

For more information on donations, sponsorship and other means of supporting TELL, please visit TELL’s website at www.telljp.com. TELL offers its Telephone Counselor Training Program twice a year. The next training program will start February 25. For more information please visit https://telljp.wpengine.com/ lifeline/pctraining/.