National Care Hotline received more than 6,600 calls in two weeks
Most were queries related to either circuit breaker measures or anxiety over financial and job concerns
The call came in at midnight. A woman was in tears, talking about how her life was falling apart.
The woman, in her 30s, had a strained relationship with her elderly mother, whom she lives with, and was struggling to find a job. She said she had no one to turn to.
On the other end of the line, social worker Noor Aaqilah Abdul Latiff listened carefully as she provided emotional assistance.
Ms Aaqilah, 42, is one of 500 volunteers manning the National Care Hotline , which was launched on April 10 to provide Singaporeans with psychological help amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In two weeks, the hotline received more than 6,600 calls, said Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) Desmond Lee in a Facebook post yesterday.
"Each call is unique and gives us a glimpse into the multifaceted challenges different individuals are facing in this crisis," said Mr Lee .
Ms Aaqilah, a manager at the Oasis Centre for Fostering, said this was a good opportunity for her to render emotional assistance to those in need.
She said: "I am fluent in Tamil and can understand some Malay, so I thought it would be good if there were more volunteers who could speak these languages."
Ms Vivienne Ng, MSF's chief psychologist, said 15 per cent of the calls were queries related to circuit breaker measures and support schemes, such as the Temporary Relief Fund.
She added that 14 per cent had anxiety issues regarding health and job concerns, and 11 per cent called about financial problems.
Some 10 per cent needed emotional support; 6 per cent called about family conflict, divorce and parenting issues; 4 per cent experienced aggression by family members, she added.
There were some callers who were suicidal. On at least two occasions, the police stepped in to prevent suicides, said Ms Ng.
Other hotlines have also seen an uptick in the number of calls.
Ms Shailey Hingorani, head of research and advocacy at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), said it received 619 calls last month.
This was a 35 per cent increase from the 459 calls in March last year and a 45 per cent increase from the 426 in March 2018.
Aware said it received 43 calls on April 14 alone, the highest daily number this month, without revealing the total number of calls for the month.
Mr Gasper Tan, the Samaritans of Singapore's chief executive, said the number of calls it received last month increased by 23 per cent, with 3,826 calls, compared with the 3,121 calls in March last year.
Said MSF's chief psychologist Ms Ng: "I'd like to encourage anybody who is suffering from any psychological distress to not hesitate to call us if you need more care. You don't have to suffer alone."
Those who wish to seek help from the National Care Hotline can call 1800-202-6868.
National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868
Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6385-3714
Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre: 6445-0400
Heart @ Fei Yue (child protection specialist centre): 6819-9170
Pave Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection: 6555-0390
Project StART: 6476-1482
Trans Safe Centre: 6449-9088
TOUCHLine (counselling): 1800-377-2252
Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800
Agency for Integrated Care Hotline: 1800-650-6060