The director of the Dr Laza Lazarević mental hospital, Ivana Stašević Karličić, says there has been an increase in the number of calls to the mental health hotlines set up after the pandemic broke out.
She says that teenagers are becoming an increasingly critical group while women are calling mainly for depression problems.
“Just two months after the pandemic broke out, the director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health would be worrying. In Serbia, even earlier, a plan had been made and a free telephone line set up to help citizens dealing with mental issues. Since 16 March last year, over 12,500 people have asked for help through that service,” said Stašević-Karličić.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the WHO had warned of the great danger of increased rates of depression and anxiety, and the Serbian Ministry of Health had adopted a plan to help citizens with mental disorders.
“Since 16 March last year, when the free telephone service was established, more than 12,500 citizens have asked for help, and about 11,000 have called the suicide prevention line. Telemedicine has been used to the maximum. Most of the women called because of problems related to depression,” the director of Dr Laza Lazarević hospital says.
What is worrying are the growing mental problems among adolescents, which is why there is a special hotline for them too. “They mainly complain about the relations in the family, problems with peers and problems at school, while the idea of suicide is growing rapidly in this population group,” she pointed out.
The first psychotic episodes increased by 20% compared to the previous period. This usually happened to hypersensitive people and people predisposed to the condition. “Many people became ill during and even after recovering from COVID. Very often, it is cognitive disorders such as forgetfulness and confusion, and the first psychotic episodes are usually accompanied by ideas that are not rooted in reality,” Stašević-Karličić concluded.
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