Plans for a new national telephone helpline for accessing mental health services are to be confirmed at an Oireachtas Committee.

The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, will confirm that the new service has been given the green light when he appears before the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care.

The Minister says he would like to see a national contact number that can be called and texted without people having to think about where to go, just like 999 services.

"Look at all the wonderful services at the back end of 999, all have their own identity but are centrally contacted and routed," Mr Daly, who wants the same approach for mental health, said.

He is suggesting that the number 8255, which is "Talk" on the phone keypad, be the number for the new service.

One of the criticisms of current mental health services is that people who are in distress and in need of help, do not have one central number to contact.

The Minister expects that the new national helpline will be up and running in 2018.

The Minister's proposal does not intend to establish any new listening or treatment service, but rather a one-stop shop "referral pathway" to the existing services that many people are not aware of.

The Cork South-West TD said that his idea is that people would not have to use the internet, download an app, or own a smart phone. Mr Daly says he wants the referral path made simple.

A person in need or their family would just make a call or send a text, and the service user will be seamlessly transferred to an appropriate service provider.

It is his hope that everyone would be aware of this number in the case of needing it for themselves, or if they need to help someone else.

He said that mental health professionals and those who frequently use the services are very much aware of the various services provided, but "outside of this bubble" people do not know where to go.

He added: "Obviously any people who are knowledgeable enough and IT literate enough to refer themselves directly to services available, can continue to do so."

It is understood that plans for the new helpline have been given the green light by Department of Health in recent days.