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Calls to NCMH helpline increase over COVID-19 quarantine, says doctor

The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) saw the number of calls to its crisis hotline double amid the quarantine imposed to curb coronavirus transmission, a psychiatrist from the institution said Monday.

Dr. Bernard Argamosa said the number of calls to their 24/7 crisis hotline doubled to an average of 30-35 daily and 953 monthly from March to May this year compared to the average of 13-15 calls daily and 400 monthly from May 2019 to February 2020.

Anxiety-related concern was the top reason for calls in April and May.

“Ang average calls po related to suicide, nag-increase rin. Pero makikita po natin talagang ang predominant reason for calling ‘yung anxiety, 'yung takot, 'yung uncertainty because this is a pandemic, this is something new,” Argamosa said in a virtual press briefing.

The NCMH has provided mental health services to 6,905 Filipinos in the past year through its crisis hotline.

Meanwhile, health concerns were the top reasons for calls to the NCMH COVID-19 Hotline from March to May 2020.

“Kasi nga hindi natin alam itong COVID. Ang daming takot tapos followed by the financial and the travel concerns because of the lockdown,” Argamosa said.

A total of 2,298 Filipinos have so far received psychosocial support from the NCMH amid the pandemic.

The NCMH’s crisis hotline may be reached through 0917-899-USAP for mobile users and 1553 or 7-989-USAP for landline users.

The COVID-19 Hotline of the hospital may be called through 0949-568-2910 for Smart users and 0966-351-4518 for Globe users.

A telemental health response service is also offered through -NB, GMA News