Mental Healthcare in Nepal – Free Emotional Support Hotline in Nepal

Posted on : July 7, 2021 by Clinic One on Mental Health

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 100 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Mental health challenges have escalated to high levels nationally which is not only causing a negative impact on personal lives but social and professional lives as well.

Especially during this anxiety-inducing time of a global pandemic, people are facing a huge amount of distress, which needs to be addressed. 

What is Mental illness?

Starting with the definition, a mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning. As with many diseases, mental illness is severe in some cases and mild in others. 

There are different mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Each illness alters a person’s thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors in distinct ways.

Contributing factors to degraded mental health include distressing and traumatic circumstances, such as assaults, in addition to academic performance demands among students and professionals. 

Mental Health Illness in Nepal

In Nepal, out of the 30.06 million people, 12 million are between the ages of 16-25, and 2-3 million of these young adults are estimated to suffer from a mental health issue.

75% of the general young adult population report mental health symptoms before the age of 24.

And sadly, there is no concrete data on adults above 25 but The Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal estimates that around 2.2 million adults suffer from mental health issues 

Despite the high prevalence, there is still a stigma against seeking the appropriate care.

Unfortunately, people with mental health problems are generally poorly treated in Nepal, which may lead to involuntary seclusion and isolation.

They are also seen as a burden to their family, I myself have seen instances of families disowning their children when they are diagnosed with a mental illness.

Mental Health Support in Nepal

The Nepalese government set aside roughly $500 million for all health care in 2019 with less than 1 percent dedicated to mental health.

There are less than 100 psychiatrists and psychologists in the entire country to help support the estimated 6 million who struggle with mental illnesses

Additionally, many doctors in Nepal receive no psychiatric education or surface-level training at all. 

There are only 18 outpatient mental health facilities available in the country, and there is no social insurance scheme in Nepal.

So, in terms of affordability of mental health services, a very small population has free access to essential psychotropic medicine; but, there is no specific data on how many people are receiving them for free. 

For those that have to pay for medication out of pocket, the cost of antipsychotic medication is 8% of the daily wage.

Since mental health is so stigmatized, most people view it as a physiological or spiritual issue so it is more common for people struggling with mental health issues to visit Ayurvedic healers, and faith healers who perform certain rituals on them and ask them to take herbs instead of psychiatric medication.

Managing your Mental Health

Managing mental illness can feel like a never-ending balancing act, but we don’t have to do it on our own. 

During this time of a global pandemic, it can be difficult to ask for help, especially as levels of anxiety rise with the uncertainty of the fast-spreading coronavirus, COVID-19. 

For many, having to unexpectedly leave or disengage with our community – even if just for a short time – can be stressful which can trigger symptoms of anxiety or other mental illnesses. 

The effects of Lockdown on Mental Health in Nepalese People

Recent reports show a total of 1,277 people committed suicide in Nepal within the span of 2 months during the first lockdown period in March 2020 (Poudel, 2020).

On average, this data is 20% higher than the previous year, which is alarming (Poudel, 2020).

With the economic, financial, personal, health, housing, academic, and employment stress that was brought upon the world by the pandemic, loss of friendships, close ones, relationships, and social isolation played a huge role in increasing the suicide rates of the country. 

Additionally, while people are staying socially isolated, patients who are infected with COVID-19 face judgment and social rejection along with the inherent stress and anxiety caused by the infection.

This added discrimination and rejection is detrimental to one’s mental wellbeing, which may lead to the patient feeling lonely and developing depression, anxiety, etc.

Similarly, older adults, children, and other dependent house members are at risk for domestic abuse during the lockdown.

It can be extremely difficult for them to speak up and seek help from others due to the risk of infection.

Similar to infected patients, the victims of domestic abuse are at a high risk of experiencing loneliness and psychological distress, which may emerge as various mental illnesses. 

How is Clinic One Going to Help?

With the rates of loneliness, abuse, and mental health issues increasing in our country, Clinic One has been working to develop an easily utilizable emotional support service for those needing emotional support, crisis intervention, and informal counseling.

We have launched an emotional support hotline and text line, which can be utilized by all Clinic One patients as well as the general population of Nepal.

Furthermore, the service of a text line was developed after considering the lack of privacy in people’s homes as sharing out one’s struggles may be extremely difficult for some patients.

Our Hotline number is free and open everyday from 9 am to 12 pm. You can either call or text via Viber/Whatsapp our hotline number +9779741805120 and talk with our emotional care provider.

This free service was developed to provide psychological support to those who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, those who do not have access to mental health care, and anyone who is feeling lonely, isolated, or simply wants to vent out and talk to a friendly voice.

With this new launch, we are hoping to make a positive impact by building the foundation to a more accessible mental healthcare system, spread awareness about mental health, and break the stigma around mental illnesses by being a service of support people can rely on. 

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