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A Philippine Mental Health Hotline Was on the Brink of Closure Due to Gov’t Pull-out

Luckily, some donors stepped in.

by Fruhlein Chrys Econar
27 June 2019, 8:08am

Screenshots via Twitter

Hopeline, a three-year-old suicide prevention hotline in the Philippines, would have been on its last leg if not for an outpouring of support that gave it a new lease on life.

On June 25, its Twitter account published a tweet thread explaining that it would have to cease operations after one of its main partners, the government’s Department of Health, withdrew its funding. The hotline, it said, would stop taking calls on July 1.

Fortunately, support was quick to arrive. Social media was awash with stories about the many ways that the hotline had helped them and their loved ones. Many filed their pleas under the hashtag #SaveHopelinePH.

It seems that these messages have reached their intended ears. A day after their original announcement, Hopeline confirmed that they would be continuing operations, buoyed by additional funding from a variety of private donors, both corporate and individual.

The Department of Health also confirmed that it would be extending their relationship with Hopeline until October 2019.

The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation, Hopeline’s founder, however, has not responded to Vice’s questions about how long all this additional support is expected to last.

While many mourned the would-be death of Hopeline, the Department of Health defended its withdrawal in a statement released on June 27, stating that the Philippine Mental Health Law, signed in 2018, requires them to launch their own crisis hotline. This May, they did just that.

While toll-free and nationally accessible 24/7, Hopeline isn’t perfect. It once drew flak for allegedly not being immediately responsive to callers. Still, when it launched during National Suicide Prevention Day, back in September 2016, it helped open a conversation around mental health care, especially in a country that is only beginning to widely realize its importance.

Over 3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders, according to figures by the Department of Health. Suicide rates are at 2.5 percent for males, and 1.7 percent for females per 100,00 people.