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Suicide prevention hotline to stay open despite halted DOH funding

Hopeline Philippines, the suicide prevention group that operates hotlines for those who need help, on Thursday said it would continue its operations despite the withdrawal of support from the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH).

“We are assuring everyone that it’s not the end of Hopeline’s advocacy. We are still going to continue serving the Filipinos under NGF,” the group said on Twitter, a day after it announced that it was going to shut down.

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NGF (Natasha Goulbourn Foundation) is a nonprofit that advocates suicide prevention, mental health awareness and wellness.

NGF developed HopelinePH, a national suicide prevention and emotional crisis intervention hotline group. HopelinePH first partnered with the DOH and NCMH in 2016 as part of the government’s campaign to help those dealing with mental health problems.

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On Wednesday, HopelinePH announced that it would cease operations starting July 1 after the DOH said it was withdrawing financial support for the group. The health department on Thursday confirmed that it could no longer continue funding HopelinePH beyond October 2019.

 

Rules of procurement

“The DOH is required to adhere to the stringent government rules for procurement. After several consultations, it became clear that it is necessary for DOH to set up its own crisis hotline through the National Center for Mental Health upon the signing of the Mental Health Act of 2019,” the DOH explained.

The mental health law was passed in June 2018 and its implementing rules and regulations were approved in January this year.

The DOH said it would continue to support NGF’s advocacy “to uphold the rights of all Filipinos living with mental health conditions.”

It described HopelinePH as a reliable partner in providing hope and support for Filipinos struggling with mental health issues and thanked the NGF for the partnership.

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Fund-raiser launched

Those who need help may access the new NCMH crisis hotline numbers 0917899-USAP (8727) or 989-USAP, the DOH said.

HopelinePH responders have set up a GoGetFunding account, an online fund crowd-sourcing platform, to help raise money to sustain their services.

HopelinePH also thanked NGF, as well as corporate and individual donors who continued to support its services.

Its hotlines are still open 24/7. The numbers are 804-4673, 09175584673 and 2919 (toll-free for Globe and TM subscribers). —TINA G. SANTOS

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