MORE than eight in 10 of all incidents dealt with by York Rescue Boat involve mental health issues, The Press can reveal.

Figures for 2018 show that 85 per cent of incidents last year involved people with mental health problems.

Only two per cent of the 96 incidents last year involved rescuing people who had fallen in drunk or who entered the river for fun or as a dare.

Rachel Lacy, operations manager for York Rescue Boat, said most of the public were unaware that the bulk of the organisation's workload was taken up with dealing with people with mental health needs.

She said: "The NHS is doing all it can, but doesn't have the funds.

"The infrastructure isn't there to support them.

"Even the police say that 80 per cent of their calls are now related to mental health issues – so it's not just us."

Alyson Scott, chief executive of York Mind said she was shocked by the figures. "I am shocked to think that such a high number of people get to that stage that that's where they go; presumably because they can't go anywhere else."

She urged anyone in that situation to see their GP, contact the Samaritans, and talk to friends and family. She said people could also access The Haven at 30 Clarence Street, which is open seven nights a week until 11pm and run by Mental Health Matters.

Last year, York Rescue Boat – which is run by a team of around 30 volunteers – attended 96 incidents, down from 106 the year before. They rescued 14 people from the water, up from 11 people the year before.

Rachel said all volunteers were trained in mental health awareness as well as water and river safety. She said the mental health training also extended to volunteers being coached on how to take care of their own wellbeing on account of some of the challenging cases they come across in the role.

Rachel said that one of the first incidents she had to deal with as a probationer on the York Rescue Boat team involved helping to coax someone threatening to jump into the Ouse.

She added other incidents last year involved rescuing birds in distress and helping boat owners in trouble.

Samaritans 24-hour freephone number: 116 123.