Shorter operating hours for National Care Hotline after dip in late-night calls

The number of calls decreased by about 42 per cent after the circuit breaker ended in early June. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: UNSPLASH

SINGAPORE - A hotline set up in April to provide psychological and emotional support to people amid the coronavirus pandemic will no longer be operating 24 hours from Sept 1, after a decline in middle-of-the-night calls.

In a Facebook post on Friday (Aug 21), Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said that over 27,900 calls have been made to the National Care Hotline since it began operations on April 10 amid the circuit breaker measures.

The number of calls decreased by about 42 per cent after the circuit breaker ended in early June, he said.

Calls received from midnight to 8am have also declined.

Mr Masagos said that from Sept 1, the hotline will operate from 8am to midnight daily.

The change also comes as some of the 900-odd volunteers who man the hotline have resumed work and other commitments during the second phase of the reopening of the economy and are not able to take on as many shifts as before.

"These revised operating hours will help us to continue to meet the needs of most of our callers while optimising our volunteer pool," said Mr Masagos.

Those who need support after midnight and call the hotline will be greeted by an interactive voice recording, he added. The recording will guide the callers to contact 24-hour crisis hotlines such as the Institute of Mental Health's helpline and the Samaritans of Singapore's hotline.

Mr Masagos also thanked the hotline volunteers for selflessly providing psychological and emotional support to the members of the public who called in.

Most of the callers were adults above 21 years old, and their top concerns pertained to mental health, as well as marital and family disputes, he said.

"We are grateful for your dedication and invaluable skills that have helped many who were feeling distressed and dejected. I am also grateful to the social service community and our community partners for collectively offering other lines of support," added the minister.

The hotline initiative is still recruiting volunteers.

Trained mental health professionals equipped with psychological first aid skills and have crisis intervention experience can sign up at this website.

Members of the public who need psychological and emotional support can call the hotline at 1800-202-6868.


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