For 30 years Greg Halse has been on the end of the phone for those in need. Now he's calling for others to do the same.

Halse started as a Lifelink/Samaritans volunteer and is now the operations manager for the region covering the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.

The charity provides confidential help to those in need and takes calls covering issues from relationship problems and loneliness, to addiction and mental health.

In the past year, the service in the region received almost 3500 calls. Of those, nearly 1500 related to health and mental health problems.

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Halse said the 24/7 service provided a listening ear.

"In an era when many people are increasingly isolated and disconnected, our service provides a confidential listening and support telephone service.

"A listening ear can make all the difference."

But he said the biggest challenge was getting volunteers.

"What we're trying to do is encourage mobile volunteering so they can do duty from home or anywhere else on a cellphone."

He said the main quality a volunteer needed was the ability to listen.

"They need to have interest in people, they need to not be fix-it type people. The emphasis is being a good listener. We don't want to fix the problem just share it."

Mental Health Awareness Week has been run annually by the Mental Health Foundation since 1993. This year the theme is Let nature in, strengthen your wellbeing.

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Ministry of Health figures show that in the 2016/17 year 17.7 per cent of the Lakes DHB population had depression.

This compared with 16.8 per cent of the Bay of Plenty DHB population.

This figure represented those who had been told by a doctor they had depression so was likely to underestimate the true number.

Lakes DHB has already been raising awareness in schools as the official week falls in the school holidays.

To express interest in volunteering for Lifelink email rotorua.lifelink@xtra.co.nz.

Reasons for call
- Health and Mental Health – 1435
- Undisclosed – 1088
- Sexual and Gender Issues – 246
- Miscellaneous – 229
- Loneliness – 113
- Relationship problems – 90
- Financial – 54
- Addiction – 28
- Suicide – 28
- Administration – 14
- Employment issues – 13
- Accommodation issues – 6
- Counselling – 6
- Legal – 3
Source: Lifelink
Where to get help:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Lifelink/Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
The Word
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.