Mental health crisis hotline launched

MANILA -- The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) on Thursday launched a 24/7 phone services for Filipinos needing mental health crisis intervention and counseling services.

"The hotline aims to reach out to those who do not have the immediate means to seek advice and serves as an avenue to offer hope and care for those who have mental health issues," NCMH Medical Center chief, Allan Troy Baquir, said in his speech during its launch in Mandaluyong City.

Baquir said hotline counsellors can attend to psychiatric emergencies, suicidal thoughts, depression, grief and loss, relationship issues, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gender identity and sexual orientation issues, school and career issues.

They can also refer the callers to other agencies that can provide specific mental health services in various parts of the country but those who are assessed with high risk will be immediately provided with intervention, he added.

According to the World Health Organization, around 800,000 people die annually due to suicide.

The NCMH Crisis Hotline numbers, 0917-899-USAP and 989-USAP, are among the strategies of the Department of Health in preventing suicide and in addressing mental health challenges, in collaboration with non-government agencies and stakeholders for stronger mental health among Filipinos.

"There is hope. Recovery is possible. There should be no shame in seeking help," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

Duque added that the hotline also aims to send a message to those with mental health issues that "they are not alone and it is okay to not be okay". (PNA)