MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is set to launch a phone-based counseling service that will provide help to people with mental health concerns on September. (READ: Why do Filipinos need a mental health law?)
HOPELINE Project, a 24/7 crisis support hotline for depression and suicide prevention, aims to connect people experiencing deep emotional crisis to counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists who can provide mental health first aid.
Mental health awareness is one of the major priorities of the DOH under the leadership of its new secretary, Paulyn Jean Rosell Ubial, who said that disorders such as mental health is something that the previous administration may have forgotten to put a focus on. (READ: Why we need a a mental health law in PH)
“The families and friends of people suffering from depression are equally important, and they need to know and understand the illness to enable them to respond and provide constructive support to their love ones during the difficult times,” Ubial said in a press release.
How it works
Responders of the Project HOPELINE will assess the situation of the individual calling the hotline and refer him or her to a medical facility and professionals, if necessary.
If the caller needs to hospitalized, the hotline will also tap government and private hospitals and clinics for patients that will need such help.
In a news report, Bernardo Vicente, director of the National Center for Mental Health, said that the hotline will be useful to callers who need someone to listen to their problems without judgment or discrimination.
The World Health Organization in 2012 put the Philippines in the 150th place in a list of 170 countries in terms of suicide rates. The suicide rate in the country is 2.9% in a population of 100,000, lower than the annual global-age standardized suicide rate of 11.4%.
A WHO report in 2012, however, also ranks the Philippines with the most number of people suffering from depression in ASEAN-member countries, with an estimated figure of 4.5 million.
Currently, there is no law in the Philippines that caters to the needs of people with mental health problems.
The Department of Health signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) and the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) on July 7 that covers “provision of communication equipment and a professional team of counselors trained to handle private and confidential information."
The foundation is named after the daughter of Jean Goulbourn, Natasha, who died from over-medication after a bout of depression 9 years ago. Natasha was 27 years old.
Among the projects that the NGF conducted in the past was the “Be Happy” initiative, a campaign that aims to promote a culture of joy among people suffering from depression.
While Project HOPELINE will not be officially launched until September 2016, individuals who want to seek mental health-related assistance can call the NGF-initiated hotline at (02) 804-HOPE (4673), 0917 558 HOPE (4673) and 2919. – Rappler.com
Dwight De Leon is a Rappler intern and the president of DZUP Radio Circle, the official student organization arm of UP Diliman’s official AM radio station, DZUP 1602.