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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 342-345

A 1-Year Study on the Usage of Psychiatry Helpline Number – 9108919025


Department of Psychiatry, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission20-Feb-2021
Date of Decision22-Mar-2021
Date of Acceptance25-Mar-2021
Date of Web Publication06-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Janisar Javed
Junior Resident, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_40_21

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  Abstract 


Background: To facilitate contact with mental health professionals (MHP), mental health centers are implementing early intervention programs with innovative strategies such as 24 h helpline services. The aim of the present study is to describe the usage of the 24 h psychiatry helpline number – 9108919025. Materials and Methods: This is a 1-year retrospective study which was conducted after the Institutional Ethical Committee clearance from May 14, 2019, to May 13, 2020, about the usage and utility of a free psychiatry helpline which is run by the department of psychiatry of a tertiary care teaching hospital. The helpline is available 24 h a day and 7 days a week, with trained MHP receiving the calls. The helpline caters to any emergencies related to emotional, psychological issues, and psychiatric illness. Results: The majority of the callers were males (57.2%) compared to female callers (42.8%). The common reason for approaching the helpline was psychosocial issues (46.3%) followed by inquiries related to psychiatric services (37.4%) and drug prescriptions (14.2%). Stress (52.1%) was the most common psychosocial issue faced by the callers followed by depression (11.7%) and interpersonal relationship conflicts (9.5%). Students with stress issues (41%) were the most common age group which approached the helpline followed by adults with work-related stress issues (26%). Conclusion: In Indian scenarios, where mental health services are spread unequally, helplines are a faster efficient, cost-effective, easy, stigma free system for helping people with mental illness, educating the public, and for information dissemination about psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Depression, helpline, mental health services, stigma, stress, telephone


How to cite this article:
Javed J, Kakunje A. A 1-Year Study on the Usage of Psychiatry Helpline Number – 9108919025. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2022;38:342-5

How to cite this URL:
Javed J, Kakunje A. A 1-Year Study on the Usage of Psychiatry Helpline Number – 9108919025. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 5];38:342-5. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2022/38/4/342/346571




  Introduction Top


As per a World Health Organization, the Indian Council of Medical Research project on Urban Mental Health Services, the deficit in the number of psychiatrists is 60% in Chennai, 36% in Delhi, and 22% in Lucknow.[1] The relative mental health service gap is large in each of the three cities: 96% in Chennai, 92% in Delhi, and 82% in Lucknow.[2]

To facilitate contact with mental health professionals (MHP), mental health centers are implementing early intervention programs with innovative strategies such as 24 h helpline services.[3] A limited number of studies have assessed the pathways to care of patients. Psychiatric services are limited only to the cities and big towns. Telephone helplines can be the medium of the first contact.

In a study done by Leach and Christensen, the results showed that telephone-administered interventions can be effective at reducing the symptoms of mental illness. The study showed that telephone interventions have been found to reduce depression, anxiety, disordered eating, alcohol use, and re-hospitalization for schizophrenia.[4]

In the area of mental health, many helplines have been set up in the country like SAHAI (Bangalore), AASRA (NaviMumbai), SNEHA (Chennai), Maitreyi (Puducherry), Roshni (Secunderabad), Saath (Ahmedabad), Sumaitri (New Delhi), Maithri (Cochin), The Samaritans Sahara (Mumbai).[5]

These helplines typically target people who may be experiencing mental health problems (e.g., depression or anxiety), have suffered abuse or trauma, be facing immediate stressors, or be feeling socially isolated.[1] As previous studies have shown that helplines are efficient, cost effective, stigma free, and can be very helpful for a person in crisis such as one who is contemplating suicide.[2] These are cost-effective, less time-consuming than going to the hospital and the caller can maintain his confidentiality. Family members can also get benefit from these in many situations, like when a patient is aggressive or the family wants to know what to do in the situation of a mental health crisis or where to go for the treatment.

Our study further evaluates the need for a psychiatry helpline. The aim of the present study is to describe the profile of individuals utilizing the 24 h Psychiatry helpline number – 9108919025.


  Materials and Methods Top


This is a 1-year retrospective study conducted after institutional ethics committee clearance, protocol number – YEC/443 from May 14, 2019, to May 13, 2020 about the usage and utility of a free psychiatry helpline which is run by the Department of Psychiatry of a tertiary care teaching hospital in India. The helpline is available 24 h a day and 7 days a week, with trained MHP receiving the calls. The helpline caters to any emergencies related to emotional, psychological, or psychiatric issues. The helpline number is prominently displayed on all notice boards of the campus, University websites, circulated on social media platforms, among nongovernmental organizations, and available over the internet. We report the usage and utility of such a unique initiative in this study.

The mobile helpline number was started as a unique community mental health initiative on March 27, 2018, to cater to individuals who have psychological issues/queries and provide immediate help.

The junior residents attend to calls after about 6 months of training in psychiatry. When a call comes on the helpline number, the junior resident on duty receives the call and collects relevant details such as age, gender, date, time, the reason for calling the helpline number, and whether he/she is calling the helpline for the first time. Consultation over the phone is done in view of any psychiatric or psychosocial issues and the patient is asked to direct interview or if he is calling from a distant place he is referred to the nearest MHP. If the junior resident is unable to handle the case, they take assistance from the senior staff on duty. In case of an emergency, the patient is asked to give the call to his/her family member and then the family member is advised to take the patient to the casualty of a nearby hospital.

All the calls which came to the helpline number are recorded in the helpline register, and data were collected from the register.

Statistical analysis: All the data are collected in the record and entered into an Excel sheet. The demographic details are presented as the frequency and percentage. The summarized data are presented as tables and bar diagrams. All the statistical analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software version 21 (IBM Corporation New York, USA) operating on Windows 10.


  Results Top


This is one of the unique programs to help people with mental health problems and their careers. The authors decided to analyze the utility and usage of this service by doing this study to understand the beneficiaries and improve the delivery.

A total number of 203 calls were received on the mobile helpline number in the 1 year period and the majority of the callers were male compared to female callers. Most of the calls were received after the outpatient department (OPD) hours (after 3:30 pm), as shown in [Table 1]. One of the key findings of our study is that majority of the callers were first-time callers (147 calls) and they had not contacted any kind of mental health facility in the past.
Table 1: Characteristics of the callers seeking telephonic service (n=203)

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[Figure 1] shows the reasons for the call to the helpline number and the most common reason for approaching the health care service was psychosocial issues followed by inquiries related to psychiatric services. [Figure 2] shows various psychosocial issues among the callers with stress being the commonest cause. [Figure 3] shows calls related to various stress-related issues with stress among the students being the most common.
Figure 1: Reasons for the call to the helpline number

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Figure 2: Psychosocial issues among the callers

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Figure 3: Various stress related issues

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As many as 97 callers later visited the OPD of our hospital. Many other callers from distant places visited the nearby mental health institutions as per the advice given.


  Discussion Top


Several methods have been implemented to reach out to people who are in the early stages of the disease, with education being the best.[6] General educators, civic education, and school systems have made use of the Internet, written advertising materials, workshops, and seminars. Workshops have also been used by early intervention initiatives to minimize bias and increase trust that the use of programs can be successful. The reluctance to seek help is likely due to stigma; the fear of being labeled with a mental illness results in a resistance to seek treatment. Phone helplines are seen as a good means of exchanging information, providing health education and advice, managing symptoms, early recognition of complications, giving reassurance, and providing quality medical health services.[7]

In the present study, the callers were predominantly males compared to females. The stress related issues were the most common reason for contacting the helpline number followed by depression and interpersonal relationship conflicts. Similarly, in a study by Chavan et al., they documented that the majority of the callers were males (65.93%).[5] A significant number of persons (434, 13.26%) called the helpline for marital, academic, stress-related problems. The majority of the calls were received after the OPD hour. 72.96% of the callers had contacted the helpline service for the first time. Male preponderance may suggest that males have greater access to resources, ranging from access to internet facilities that allow them to learn about the service, access to phones or finances to pay for calls, or generally more free time in their households. In contrast, a study by Ingram et al., and Meehan and Broom, documented the female preponderance with the hotline calls due to the mental crisis with them.[8],[9]

The initial data from the recently launched Kiran helpline by the Government of India on September 7, 2020 for mental issues, shows that the helpline received 13,550 new calls from September 16, 2020, to January 15, 2021, out of which the callers were predominantly males (70.5%) compared to females (29.5%).[9] Anxiety (28.5%) and depression (25.5%) were primarily the difficulties faced by the callers, although few others included pandemic-related challenges (7.8%), suicidal propensity (2.8%), drug abuse (3.4%), and other miscellaneous problems (32%), these results are in line with our studies.[10]

In a study by Jianlin, the author presents the Shanghai Mental Health Hotline. According to the experience obtained over the last 2 years, most of the 8214 callers had problems in intimate relationships, mostly with lovers and partners. Love problems were the key cause for telephone consultation by unmarried callers (51%), although marriage disputes and family issues were the most common explanation for a married caller (57%). Any individuals who have suffered from psychiatric illnesses have made calls for aid in administration or social care. These calls involved psychosis recovery (3.5%), sleep disorder (3.2%), and suicidal ideation (2.2%).[11]

In a study by Iqbal et al., the reason for the calling hotline was emotional issues (28.89%) as the predominant reason, followed by relationship issues (27.52%) and employment or educational concerns (13.08%).[12]

Helpline services are a welcome addition to an ever growing toolset for tending to mental health issues. It is especially important to offer an opportunity for early contact, identification, and treatment for mental disorders as well as to those with psychosocial problems.[11] The other strategies which could help are manpower development, community psychiatry clinics, strengthening the existing infrastructures, primary health care improvement, involving the mass media to tackle the stigma, public education, and setting up the helplines for the persons in crisis. The telephone helplines appear to be very promising in bringing the patients to receive timely advice and treatment.[13] This method appears more effective and advantageous for the simple reason being, calling on a helpline feels to be more comforting to patients and less stigmatic to seek mental health.

We also acknowledge few limitations of the study that it is a register based data, no face-to-face interview was possible and hence problems/diagnosis could vary during personal interviews. Furthermore, record keeping of the calls has been done by different junior residents hence there may be some subjective variations. Retrospective nature of the study has its inherent limitation.


  Conclusion Top


In Indian scenarios, where mental health services are spread unequally, helplines are a faster efficient, cost effective, easy, stigma free system for helping people with mental illness, educating the public, and for information dissemination about psychiatric disorders.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Pirkis J, Middleton A, Bassilios B, Harris M, Spittal MJ, Fedszyn I, et al. Frequent callers to telephone helplines: New evidence and a new service model. Int J Ment Health Syst 2016;10:43.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Desai NG, Tiwari SC, Nambi S, Shah B, Singh RA, Kumar D, et al. Urban mental health services in India: How complete or incomplete? Indian J Psychiatry 2004;46:195-212.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
3.
World Health Organization. Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, WHO Meeting on Evidence for Prevention and Promotion in Mental Health: Conceptual and Measurement Issues. Prevention and Promotion in Mental Health. Geneva: Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, World Health Organization; 2002. Available from: http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/545.pdf. [Last accessed on 2021 Mar 15].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Leach LS, Christensen H. A systematic review of telephone-based interventions for mental disorders. J Telemed Telecare 2006;12:122-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Chavan BS, Garg R, Bhargava R. Role of 24 hour telephonic helpline in delivery of mental health services. Indian J Med Sci 2012;66:116-25.  Back to cited text no. 5
  [Full text]  
6.
D'Orazio M, Pallagrossi M, Biondi M. Teaching how to ask for help: Social sensitiveness and early intervention in psychosis. Clin Ter 2009;160:323-30.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Olofinjana O, Connolly A, Taylor D. Outcomes of information provision to callers to a psychiatric medication helpline. Psychiatr Bull 2009;33:364-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Meehan SA, Broom Y. Analysis of a national toll free suicide crisis line in South Africa. Suicide Life Threat Behav 2007;37:66-78.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Ingram S, Ringle JL, Hallstrom K, Schill DE, Gohr VM, Thompson RW. Coping with crisis across the lifespan: The role of a telephone hotline. J Child Fam Stud 2008;17:663-74.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Nath D. Ministry's Mental Health Helpline Sees Most Calls from Men. The Hindu; 2021 February, 07. Available from: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ministrys-mental-health-helpline-sees-most-calls-from-men/article33774872.ece. [Last accessed on 2021 Mar 15].  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Jianlin J. Hotline for mental health in Shanghai, China. Crisis 1995;16:116-20.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Iqbal Y, Jahan R, Matin MR. Descriptive characteristics of callers to an emotional support and suicide prevention helpline in Bangladesh (first five years). Asian J Psychiatr 2019;45:63-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Hardavella G, Aamli-Gaagnat A, Frille A, Saad N, Niculescu A, Powell P. Top tips to deal with challenging situations: Doctor-patient interactions. Breathe (Sheff) 2017;13:129-35.  Back to cited text no. 13
    


    Figures

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