Millennials, Gen Z majority of callers on mental health hotline | Inquirer News
Including a kid as young as 5

Millennials, Gen Z majority of callers on mental health hotline

/ 05:44 AM November 11, 2022

Are life’s challenges too much to bear?

Dr. Noel Reyes, medical center chief II of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), said it may look like that because even a child as young as 5 years old who was having difficulty with the demands of school called up the center’s crisis hotline for help, and that the kid’s parents were the ones who made the call.

According to Reyes, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to trigger phone calls mostly from the younger generation to seek help about their mental health.


Majority of the callers were below 29 years of age, or those who belong to the generation of “millennials” and “Gen Z,” he said.


“The younger generation are more or less open (about mental health). They’re aware that something’s wrong and they seek help,” Reyes told reporters.

The common complaints in the phone calls were depression as well as feelings of anxiety and uncertainty brought about by loss of jobs, isolation from being quarantined, issues with family, school and love life.

Another reason would be concerns on which hospital or doctor they would go to to seek consultation.

The NCMH noted a surge in calls, with around 1,600 per month this year from just around 200 a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

From January to September this year alone, the NCMH received 14,200 calls.

Anchored on the premise that, “Nobody is being left behind” in addressing mental health conditions, Reyes said the crisis hotline was launched in 2019 as a 24/7 service for individuals needing immediate counseling service and intervention.


Red flags

“If there’s a ‘red flag,’ in the evaluation (of the respondents who took the call), then they are immediately referred to the psychiatrists,” Reyes said.

After asking for the caller’s symptoms, respondents evaluate “whether these have reached a point that has already affected [a patient’s] functioning,” he said.

Among the “red flags” are loss of appetite, insomnia, or lack of motivation to do anything, he added.


“If the symptoms have already affected these areas of functioning, then we should [make a] diagnosis. And once we diagnose, we need to give proper medication,” Reyes said.But among the older population, the social stigma attached to issues surrounding mental health becomes a critical factor in their tendency to dismiss mental health illnesses.

“They don’t want people to think they have kids who are perceived to be mentally weak,” the head of the NCMH said.

On Thursday, Department of Health (DOH) Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a statement, “Stigma and discrimination continue to hamper us from maximizing our mental health services and programs. Recognizing these challenges, we have adopted a nonspecialized approach to bring mental health services closer to the communities, ensuring that mental health care is available for all life stages in various settings and levels of care.”

At a separate press conference, Vergeire noted that a key program for the NCMH in the next five years is the “reintegration” with the community of patients dealing with mental health disorders.

“This is what we want to achieve—that all patients with mild mental health illness and substance abuse problems can be reintegrated into society … with community-based intervention. And we are already starting that,” Vergeire said.

There is also a need for an official census of mental health patients to “get the complete picture” of the prevalence of mental health illnesses as the current data are only based on estimates, she noted.

The DOH reported that at least 3.6 million Filipinos suffered from some form of mental health illness in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The other mental health issues were depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcohol and drug use disorders, epilepsy and suicide. INQ

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Center for Mental Health hotline at 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP; or 1553 (landline to landline, toll-free).


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TAGS: mental health, NCMH, Youth

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