COVID caused staggering demand for mental health services, Richmond Foundation says

The demand for mental health services throughout the pandemic increased by 500%, the Richmond Foundation says as it asks for donations to plug a hole in its finances caused by the staggering increase

Requests for mental health services shot up throughout the pandemic (File Photo)
Requests for mental health services shot up throughout the pandemic (File Photo)

The demand for mental health services increased by 500% throughout the pandemic with the Richmond Foundation saying that the impact on mental health was astounding.

Chief Executive Officer Stephania Dimech Sant said the COVID-19 pandemic affected people from all strata, over a prolonged period of time.

“The impact on people’s mental health in Malta has been astounding. Some with anxiety about going back to the office, some with depressive symptoms developed while working from home, others are anxious about their business slowing down. Children and young people have been impacted by the disruption in their school routines,” she said.

Dimech Sant mentioned how Richmond expanded its free services, with more people reaching out at an overwhelming rate.

She was speaking on Thursday during a press conference in which the foundation appealed for donations to cover the additional expense that left a hole of €200,000 in its finances.

The Gift of Therapy campaign is asking individuals and companies for donations, amidst a staggering increase in demand for its free mental health services.

Chief Operations Officer Daniela Calleja Bitar, stressed on the significant increase in help requests received throughout the pandemic, over the 1770 helpline, which is available 24/7.

“The average number of requests over a 10-year period, stood at between 400 and 600, but this shot up to 4,500 in 2020. This meant an increase of 500% in 18 months,” Calleja Bitar said.

She also mentioned how, an online chat service started last May, has already seen 1,250 requests. Face-to-face follow up meetings have also seen a 900% increase over six months, added Calleja Bitar.

“Richmond has been investing as hard as it can to meet this demand, but we are at a point where we need the public’s help,” Dimech Sant said.

She also invited commercial entities to contribute to the campaign and “offer hope”. “Help us to continue giving hope to the people who reach out to us,” she said.