Calls for help with mental health problems have increased by 500% because of Covid
The Richmond Foundation will this year be handling close to 7,000 requests for assistance because of mental health problems, when compared to not more than 600 requests for help per year.
The Foundation stated that the impact of the Covid pandemic on people’s mental health in Malta was very big and continued to increase substantially.
With an increase in the demand for services, the pandemic impacted negatively on the Richmond Foundation’s finances, and the Foundation launched a campaign for financial assistance in order to continue offering its services.
The coronavirus pandemic has left a strong impact on mental health, which developed in phases from anxiety to fear, to fatigue and depression.
Since the start of the pandemic in March last year, calls to the Richmond Foundation for assistance on helpline 1770 increased by 500%. An average of between 400 and 600 calls per year before the pandemic has now become nearly 7,000 calls per year.
Richmond Foundation Chief Executive Stephania Dimech Sant said these are all persons who sought assistance because of the effect of the pandemic on their mental health., adding that mental health problems can affect everyone.
“With the effect becoming longer and measures being extended, we started seeing more symptoms of depression. People restricted indoors are not meeting up with other people, and that is where we started seeing symptoms of depression. This month we have started seeing several crises, with an increase in calls from people who are considering self-harm, calls from people contemplating suicide; we have hit a peak during this month.”
During the first five months of the olli.chat service, Richmond Foundation professionals assisted in 1,250 calls for help. Mrs Dimech Sant explained that every case is followed up as necessary – with many needing face-to-face meetings with professionals until they get back on their feet.
“We might have to offer free therapy to some of them, as not everyone can afford to pay for therapy. We sometimes get crisis calls which necessitate our having to call emergency services in order to safeguard life.”
The Covid pandemic resulted in a greater financial burden on the Richmond Foundation, which invested and introduced new services to offer hope to a greater number who are fighting in difficult times.
Mrs Dimech Sant said the Foundation will be ending this year 200,000 euro in the red and is forecasting that calls for assistance will increase. The Foundation has launched a campaign for financial assistance which will continue until Christmas, in order to continue offering its professional services.