Texts, DMs flood Lifeline and there's more to come

Since the first Lifeline phone rang in March 1963, the calls have been ever more frequent - now coming in twice a minute.

But changing behaviours mean the 24-hour text and chat crisis support service launched a year ago could soon face as many contacts from help seekers.

Lifeline chief executive Colin Seery said the new program already had about one contact every two minutes and was "growing significantly".

"It's pretty well documented some of the challenges of youth, with mental health and domestic and family violence challenges during (COVID-19) lockdown," he said on Tuesday.

"(It has) over 20,000 contacts per month. We believe that by 2026, that will increase five-fold."

He said 42 per cent of those using the text service wouldn't have otherwise contacted Lifeline, making it critically important the service grew to meet demand.

The SMS-based service (0477 13 11 14) and online chat service became 24/7 in February 2022 after a $1.5 million federal government grant.

NSW Labor on Tuesday promised a further $8.2 million over five years if it wins the state election on March 25.

Mr Seery said Lifeline believed it needed to play a big role in the mental health sector and seek better integration with other charities and public health services.

"We think it is confusing, it's hard to navigate," he said.

"We're having serious discussions with Beyond Blue, Reach Out and others about how can we not duplicate, how can we make sure that the help seeker comes in the right place and ends up at the right place.

"We're committed to that and we're going to work on that over the next three to four years."

Lifeline received a record 1,070,860 calls in 2021, achieving an average call answer rate of 90.4 per cent.

Ryan Park, who would be the NSW health minister if Labor was elected, said he wanted to ensure people accessing Lifeline were appropriately referred to health services.

"They're very good at that but we've got to make sure that the back end, if that is for inpatient or if it's for counselling, that those services are available," he said.

NSW Health's website has an extensive list of mental health and support services, including for trauma support, parenting, eating disorders and dementia.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)