MHRT records 265 cases beginning second lockdown till January 19

Of the 265 cases reported, 18 cases were from the isolation wards and three from quarantine facilities

The Mental Health and Psychosocial Response Team (MHRT) in Thimphu recorded a total of 265 cases beginning second lockdown till January 19, 2021.

A Ministry of Health (MoH) official said that the majority of callers were aged 18-40 years and male callers slightly outnumbered the females.

Of the 265 cases reported, 181 cases were from the general population, 18 from the isolation wards and three from quarantine facilities.

The official said that most of the calls sought help for mental disorders-135 cases being recorded for the same. Twenty-eight cases were related to seeking information on general medical problems and refilling of medication, 25 cases to domestic violence and self-harm and 18 cases to the stranded population and transportation during lockdown.

Sixteen cases were related to seeking help for alcohol and drug abuse, 10 cases to information on COVID-19, test protocols, flu clinics and results, eight were prank calls, seven cases were complaints about the quarantine/isolation facilities, six cases were related to seeking information on essential supplies and Kidu grants during lockdown, five cases were inquires related to other dzongkhagsโ€™ helpline numbers, four were enquiries by Desuups regarding health briefing and three were calls inquiring about NMHRT call services.

The official said the majority of calls were related to seeking help for mental disorders: 42 calls for anxiety, 29 calls for psychiatric medication refill, 21 cases for depression, 16 cases for violence and self-harm, 16 cases for alcohol and substance-abuse, nine cases for insomnia, eight cases for interpersonal conflicts, six cases for self-harm, three cases for stigma and one case for trauma.

The health ministry has stated that various measures have been put in place to tackle mental health issues as it is the most neglected public health issue and MHRT has been operating five mental health helplines at the national level for 24 hours since March 2020. Every district and Thromde have their own local MHRT which they operate at the same time.

The MHRT are a multi-disciplinary team including mental health professionals, health workers, school-based counselors, NGO workers and volunteers who are available 24 hours a day.

โ€œMore than 16 standard operating procedures (SOP) for providing counseling and psychosocial support have been developed in consultation with all the stakeholders,โ€ the official said, adding all the service providers are trained on the SOPs and use them in their work.

More than 30 helplines are available for counselling in different districts and Thromdes.

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu