Help on the line

Help on the line

Anyone who is sad and needs someone to talk to can dial the number of the telephone counselling service – and has been doing so for the past 60 years. More and more people are also seeking counseling via chat or mail.

Telephone counselling in Germany celebrates its 60th anniversary. Birthday. In 2015, people seeking advice contacted counselors around 1.8 million times via landline or cell phone; around 6.300 people seeking advice used mail contact. The number of chat sessions grew sharply to 9.800 an. Around 8.000 volunteers and 188 full-time staff in 105 offices nationwide are there around the clock for desperate people. Fears, mental and physical limitations and relationship ies are the most common themes, according to officials in Cologne on Tuesday.

Readiness day and night

The spokesman for the "Catholic Conference for Telephone Chaplaincy and Open Door", Michael Hillenkamp, referred to a large effort of volunteers. "Only if they continue to experience the work as meaningful will enough of them be willing in the future to get their ears full day and night, even at Christmas."

Hillenkamp criticized that psychotherapists, clinics or care institutions increasingly referred to the telephone counselling service for their own relief. But it could only offer clarifying talk and emotional support for people in need. "Mental association places alone are not sufficient for the support of multiply burdened humans however."

The chairwoman of the "Evangelische Konferenz fur TelefonSeelsorge," Ruth Belzner, spoke of increasing requirements. Thus the consultation by Chat and Mail would be ever more in demand. "The even greater anonymity on the net makes very shameful and fearful topics describable: suffered physical, mental and sexual violence, suicidal tendencies, self-injurious behavior."

Help also on the net

On the occasion of the anniversary, the World Congress of Telephone Chaplaincy will take place from 19. to 22. July in Aachen, Germany. Around 1.600 volunteers from 33 countries will address help options for people in suicidal crises under the motto "So that life goes on," announced the head of TelefonSeelsorge Aachen, Frank Ertel. In Germany, advisers in 2015 led over 57.000 calls on the subject of suicide, in more than 8.000 calls of which suicidal intentions were explicitly expressed.

The idea of helping people in emergency situations by telephone was brought to Germany from England by the Protestant pastor, doctor and psychotherapist Klaus Thomas. In 1956, Thomas set up the "arztliche Lebensmudenbetreuung" in Berlin. As early as the 1980s, pastoral counselors could be reached by telephone almost everywhere, even in rural areas of western Germany. Since 1997, calls can be made toll-free because Telekom covers the costs.

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Christina Cherry
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