Depression and extreme anxiety are on the rise due to the lockdown curbing coronavirus. Increasing numbers of indications and people seeking help are reported across many countries.
In Singapore, for example, Minister for Social and Family Development, Desmond Lee posted on Facebook on April 29 about the high volume of calls received by the National Care hotline. There were more than 6,600 calls made in just two weeks since the National Care Hotline was launched.
“Each call is unique and gives us a glimpse into the multi-faceted challenges different individuals are facing in this crisis,” said Mr. Lee. The said hotline was set up, aiming to provide psychological first aid and emotional support amid the coronavirus situation.
Among the top issues surfaced from the calls received are concerns over finances and marital disputes. Anxiety over the rapid increasing spread of the COVID-19 that leads to a daily uncertainty for people, their family or loved ones.
The Strait Times has published a report about one of the conversations. Ms. Madhavi Manickavasagam ( 37, a senior counseling psychologist at the Community Psychology Hub) received a call from an elderly female who was reported to seek help. She was crying while repeatedly saying that she needed a specific spice from the supermarket.
The volunteer articulated the story about that call encounter that particularly struck her, “On the surface, it seems easy to dismiss her concern as trivial, but the underlying issue was that she was lonely and fearful of the coronavirus situation,” she said.
Ms. Madhavi said she volunteered for the hotline, as she believes that providing early support could reduce the demand for longer-term mental health services three or six months down the road, The Strait Times reported.
“For me, my sister and I are looking after my dad, but there are many other elderly who may not have anyone to depend on, Ms. Madhavi said.
The number is increasing.
As days passing by, the number of callers is increasing, wanting to look for help or support concerning mental issues. Expressing their worries, may it be for the loss of job opportunities, income stability, or being stuck in one roof while having ongoing conflicts between members of the families.
Gasper Tan, SOS Chief Executive, said, “A bleak economic outlook and impact from sudden reduction or loss in income during this pandemic can be especially severe for lower-income families, adding that the prolonged feelings of fear, worry and anxiety may affect their mental health.”
He also mentioned, “Those with difficulties coping with their emotions during this time to try some strategies such as managing exposure to media reporting, as repetitively tuning in to news about the severity of the pandemic may heighten anxiety.”
He encouraged people to engage in hobbies or activities to keep them occupied and distracted from overwhelming issues, and stay connected through different means and reach out for support where needed.
There were mental health agencies that offer readily available online counseling services, which people can access without leaving home during Circuit breaker.
Collective efforts are made by these agencies to encourage everyone to take advantage of the service. Pick up the phone whenever feeling emotionally down or distressed and dial into the National Care Hotline or our other community helplines.
• National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868
- Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service (eC2.sg)
- Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline (6389-2222)
- Samaritans of Singapore (1800-221-4444)
- Silver Ribbon Singapore (6385-3714)
- Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788
Marital and parenting issues
- Community Psychology Hub’s Online Counselling platform (CPHOnlineCounselling.sg)
Violence or abuse
- Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre (6445-0400)
- HEART @ Fei Yue Child Protection Specialist Centre (6819-9170)
- PAVE Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection (6555-0390)
- Project StART (6476-1482)
- TRANS SAFE Centre (6449-9088)
- TOUCHline (Counselling) – 1800-377-2252
- Care Corner Counselling Centre – 1800-353-5800
- Agency for Integrated Care Hotline – 1800-650-6060