Around 5,000 ‘pandemic-anxious’ Pinoys turn to mental health hotline for counseling

<i>Photo: Anh Nguyen / Unsplash</i>
Photo: Anh Nguyen / Unsplash

At least 5,448 calls were made to the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) crisis hotline since March due to anxiousness exacerbated by the pandemic, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.

Of this number, a “high volume of calls” were recorded during the months of April to July and “the peak was last June 2020, where we received 1,115 calls,” Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.

She added that there was also a rise in monthly suicide-related calls, with 33 recorded in March, 66 calls in April, 80 in May, and 112 in June. There were also 109 calls received in August so far.

“[T]he peak of suicide-related calls happened in July 2020 with 115 calls,” Vergeire said.

Read: Health Department urges public not to share video of Razorback drummer Brian Velasco’s suicide

The health official added that according to NCMH’s reports, most of the calls were caused by worries about the coronavirus.

“For August 2020, the top reason for calling was anxiety-related due to the pandemic. So it’s being exacerbated…anxiety-related feelings are being exacerbated because of our current situation,” Vergeire said.

She urged anyone going through mental health issues to call NCMH’s hotline for support as the calls are “free and confidential.”

The country has been placed on lockdown since mid-March to stem the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in scores of business closures, and a 45.5% rise in unemployment rate. 

For mental health support and assistance, you can reach the NCMH crisis hotline via  +63917 899 8727 (USAP), +632 7 989 8727 (USAP), or toll-free at 1553.

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