The Department of Health (DOH) signed a memorandum of agreement for the HOPELINE Project with the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF) and the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) last July 7 at the DOH Head Office in Manila as part of the mental health initiative of DOH.
Mental health issues have now placed third in WHO’s Triple Burden of Disease and must be given utmost attention and action especially for those marginalized sectors of the society who due to stigma and financial incapacity tend to disregard the risks of mental health deterioration which eventually affect their quality of life.
Under President Duterte’s administration, DOH Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial who is a staunch advocate of mental health assured the audience and the media that, “This time, mental health programs will be prioritized. For many years, it has been in the backseat and now many Filipinos are suffering silently from the stigma and disabling effects of mental health conditions.”
The Hopeline is a phone-based 24/7 crisis support hotline for depression and suicide prevention. The gap between the mental health practitioners and the public can also be addressed by connecting them through the Hopeline, which will serve as a portal to link people in deep emotional crisis to the psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and institutions that can cater to their psychological and psychiatric needs.
Responders with in-depth training on crisis intervention will provide free crisis support and upon assessment of the situation, if there is a need for a medical or psychological intervention, then referral to a medical facility and professionals will be given to the caller or family member.
Philhealth will also be a point of care in case patients require hospitalization. Apart from government-owned hospitals, some private clinics and hospitals will also be tapped to provide mental health services to the public at a lower cost, if not for free through their social welfare assistance.
Jean Goulbourn, president of Natasha Goulbourn Foundation was teary-eyed for the direction of Hopeline is now clear. With the support of DOH and NCMH, her efforts for the Hopeline which was a pilot project of her foundation will now be on a national platform.
The National Center for Mental Health, through Director Bernardino Vicente will be more than happy to assist the HOPELINE project as it will also be a big help for the patients and their families to have a helpline that can guide them in times of emotional crisis.
Director Vicente also added that the Hopeline will benefit the caller in three ways. First, by having someone who will listen to them without judgment. Second, by providing them information about the signs and symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions and Third, by suggesting interventions from mental health therapists and institutions that can provide counseling, therapy or medical and psychiatric care according to their need.
The Hopeline Project will be launched in September this year.
The HOPELINE hotline numbers are 02-804-HOPE(4673), 0917-558-HOPE and 2919 (tollfree number for Globe and TM subscribers.)
This article is contributed by Hazel Planco.