During the third episode of Bay Chats with Drew and Noel, Mental Health Commissiooner, Dr John M Cachia said that in its first week of operation, the team manning the COVID-19 Mental Health Helpline, 1770 spoke to a record amount of people. Dr Cachia, in fact said that this record amount is equivalent to the amount of people they usually speak to in a month.
“This is the reason why there was an immediate call for more volunteers to help man the helpline, as additional manpower was also needed on the back-end of the helpline, where the required follow-ups take place,” Dr Cachia said.
Dr Cachia said that was is striking and worth noting, is that even though the calls came from people of all ages, there has been a telling influx of calls from young people and people under 4o years of age, who are mostly worried about the future – something which also came out in a recent study by Richmond Foundation.
“A recent study by Richmond Foundation shows that there is a sense of apathy, coupled with a sense of fear and a sense of depression, which is manifesting itself among younger people rather than among the older generation. What struck me most is that the “hope for a better future” is more positive amongst the elderly, rathr than amongst younger members of our society,” Dr Cachia said.
Commissioner’s Advice to Children and Youths, and Parents
With regards to the mental health of children, Commissioner Cachia said that parents should not only encourage and help their children not only with the formal aspects of education but also with informal education, adding that children need to be kept aware of what is going on around them. He said that we need to do this by explaining in simple terms, which they can easily understand.
“We need to explain to them why they cannot see their grandparents, and why they cannot go to school for the time being,” he said, whilst stressing that children’s mental health and wellbeing is also affected by what they perceive at home, in that, if they see the parents living in fear, then that will transmit to them.
Commissioner Cachia also commented on how good it is to see, even on social media, children helping out with cooking and with house chores. He said that it is these types of experiences, which most children usually do not have the opportunity to go through, because of the hectic life we used to lead, that are of extreme importance in these challenging times, as they help in building resilience.
For children, youths and adults alike, Dr Cachia said we have to make it a point to have some structure in our days at home, so that there would still be that sense of routine, which we are all accustomed to.