From January to April 2021, the crisis hotline of the National Center for Mental Health received up to 694 calls from those in the age group of 5 to 17 years old.
It surpassed the 403 calls received by the crisis hotline in the said age group from March 17 to December 2020.
That is if last year the crisis hotline received 1 to 2 calls per day from minors, the average daily calls received in the past four months has reached 6.
“Most of the younger callers that we have, iyong parents ang tumatawag on their behalf. Iyong mga 15, 16, 17, most often than not, sila mismo iyong tumatawag,” said Dr. Sharlene Ongoco, Assistant Program Director of NCMH crisis hotline.
There are five common reasons teens call the crisis hotline: first anxiety or depressive symptoms, family problems, referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist, problems with academics, education, and love.
According to Ongoco, various interventions are given to callers such as psychological first aid and suicide prevention.
Others call, he said, just need someone to talk to.
Number of minors calling mental health hotline increased
“Children respond to stress differently sa ating mga adults. Some of the behaviors that they show are iyong nagiging clingy sila sa atin, nagiging anxious din sila and even withdrawn. That’s why it’s very important during the pandemic that guardians and parents, they respond to these reactions in a more supportive and reassuring way. Kukumustahin nila iyong mga bata kung, ‘Okay ka lang ba? May problema ba? May pinagdadadaanan ka ba? Malaking bagay na nakikinig tayo,” said Ongoco.
In total, up to 5,511 called the NCMH crisis hotline from January to April 2021, including youth and adults.
The mental health crisis hotline received more than 11,000 calls in 202, up 247 percent from more than 3,000 calls in 2019.
Meanwhile, DSWD has also launched its own online mental and psychosocial assistance platform.
According to the NCMH, the increase in the number of callers on the crisis hotline and the availability of other mental health response programs are proof that the public knows they have someone to turn to in the face of trials.
“During this pandemic, it is normal to feel scared, it is normal to feel anxious, it is normal to feel sad, considering that we are experiencing an abnormal situation,” said Ongoco.