Inquiries regarding mental health issues climbed in 2020: IAS

The number of phone inquiries relating to mental health matters the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) has received in 2020 is higher vis-à-vis 2019, Sou Chi Kuan, head of Rehabilitation Service Division of IAS, said.
“We received some feedback from the facility [units], saying that most [of the phone inquiries] are linked to the cases of the emotional problems and confiding in [the consultants on the hotline],” Kuan said in an interview with TDM.
However, Kuan did not provide a yearly tally of the phone queries in 2019 and 2020, nor the growth rate between the two years.
Macau’s health experts have ascribed the worsening state of mental health among locals to the increased stress associated with living amid the pandemic.
A recent survey conducted from August to November 2020 by the University of Macau (UM) delved into the status of mental wellness amongst locals during the epidemic. The results were released recently in February 2021, and disclosed that 11.5% and 6.3% of respondents said they experienced moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety respectively due to Covid-19.
More than that, the UM researchers found 26.4% claimed that they were experiencing moderate to severe fatigue, whilst 6.4% said they were suffering moderate to severe insomnia symptoms during the later stages of the pandemic.
Due to the onset of the pandemic, IAS established an around-the-clock hotline on January 26, 2020, in a bid to offer instant services, such as counseling and referrals, to locals who have been experiencing mental health issues and emotional distress.
According to the most recent official statistics, IAS received approximately 240 phone inquires as of March 25, 2020 since its launch.
If consultants find that callers are exhibiting symptoms of mental ill-health, they will intervene and offer medical treatment where appropriate, Kuan added.
“The most worrying thing is that there are many people in the community, who are aware of their [mental] problems, but will still be indisposed to reach out to the hospitals or health centers, or to associations like us,” Jennifer Chau, director of the Fuhong Society of Macau, previously said..
Aside from IAS, Caritas Macau also runs a 24-hour hotline offering mental health-related support to those in need.

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