HCMC pilots emergency aid for depression

By Le Phuong   July 25, 2022 | 03:00 am PT
HCMC pilots emergency aid for depression
A psychiatrist talks with a patient at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy hospital, October 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Tri Minh
A trial project has been launched in Ho Chi Minh City to offer people with signs of depression the help they need before they could harm themselves.

When detecting signs similar to depression, patients or their family members can call the hotline 19001267 operated by HCMC Psychiatric Hospital, or 115, used for emergency health issues in general.

Staff receiving those calls would ask several screening questions before medical staff are sent to the patient's address, talking them into having their mental health checked at HCMC Psychiatric Hospital.

If the patients are in severe condition, they will be hospitalized for further treatment.

Otherwise, they will be taken care of via a community-based network. It is still not clear how this network will function but the municipal Health Department said it would train medical staff and psychological treatment collaborators at "the grassroots level."

It is expected the HCMC Health Department would evaluate the project once per month to decide on improvements.

Tang Chi Thuong, the department director, said the project aims to timely approach people with serious mental disorders.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders that manifest in various degrees. It is dangerous because most people with serious depression often have the tendency to commit suicide, he said.

As many as 70 percent of patients who commit suicide have issues related to mental disorders, including depression.

Symptoms of depression vary but the most common include persisting sorrow, pessimism, and hopelessness.

In addition, the patient might experience sleeping disorders, a loss of appetite, and apathy.

According to the Health Department, the project is part of the post-Covid-19 health care roadmap for HCMC residents.

Scientific reports around the world have recorded the impact of Covid on mental health and according to the World Health Organization, in the first year of the pandemic, the proportion of people suffering from anxiety and, more seriously, depression had increased by 25 percent against 2019.

In many countries, mental healthcare and psychosocial support have been added to Covid-19 response plans.

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