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NGOs launch hotline in response to widespread Covid-19 stress

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Health workers conduct safety guidelines for residents in Tuol Pongro commune of Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on April 29. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

NGOs launch hotline in response to widespread Covid-19 stress

Two NGOs – TPO Cambodia and Plan International Cambodia – have launched a short-term programme to provide mental health services, psychological counselling and social support via a telephone hotline and online chat for both children and adults amid the stress caused by the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19.

The services will be provided to anyone whose mental health has been negatively affected by the pandemic with target areas of Phnom Penh, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Siem Reap and Battambang, with plans to keep the hotline running from April 29 to June 25.

The NGOs’ plan of action on this front also includes other activities such as building local support networks, training persons at the municipal and provincial social welfare departments through online courses and promoting good mental health and psychological resilience by raising awareness about the issues on social media and through small group gatherings.

Taing Sopheap, programme coordinator at TPO Cambodia, said the Covid-19 outbreak has caused an increase in the number of people with mental health problems and psychological distress.

“Following the February 20 community outbreak, we received from 250 to 300 phone calls per month for consultation, while in 2020 we had received only 75 to 100 calls a month,” she said.

Sopheap also noted that TPO was currently open and available to provide psychological and mental health counseling to the general public.

According to TPO, the Covid-19 outbreak has prompted the government to undertake many measures that are key to curbing the spread of the virus but that inevitably disrupt the way of life for many children and cut them off socially from their friends and community while putting more burdens on their parents because they were now studying online at home.

Sopheap said all of this added stress and the fact that parents and children were forced to spend all of their time together in close quarters and many families were undergoing economic difficulties had led to a rise in domestic violence.

These serious issues – which can be prevented or reduced through professional psychological counselling – were a large part of why the groups had considered the hotline necessary at this time.

Those who are in need of mental health counseling or social support can reach out to TPO at the following numbers: 017 222 372; 010 222 478; 097 9111 918; 089 666 325 or through their Facebook page.

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