Requests for help with mental health issues have increased by about 500 per cent since the start of the pandemic, according to the Richmond Foundation. 

The NGO, which focuses on mental health and provides free services for those in need said people were initially experiencing anxiety but were now dealing with issues related to pandemic fatigue.

It received 4,500 requests for help in 2020 and 7,000 appeals for help so far this year.

That compares to previous years, where the NGO typically received some 400 to 600 requests per year - an increase of around 500 per cent.  

Costs soar

Launching a fundraising campaign on Thursday, Chief Operating Officer Daniela Calleja Bita said the NGO needs some €200,000 to cover operating costs. 

She said that when COVID-19 first hit Malta in 2020, people were requesting help to deal with experiencing anxiety and the fear of the unknown, however, this changed as the situation continued to deteriorate.

"Lately, in the past few months, it’s been pandemic fatigue," she said.

"There is a multitude of things going on. We believe requests are likely to increase given we are still in a pandemic and it is likely that more people will start experiencing symptoms [of mental issues]."

The demand for professional help in the form of therapy also increased by some 75 per cent, she said. 

CEO Stephania Dimech Sant said the NGO predicts requests for service will continue to increase in the coming year especially since many are still experiencing struggles before the pandemic. 

The fundraising campaign will run for a month, until Christmas. The NGO is also urging companies to support their initiative as part of corporate social responsibility.

Professionals working in the health sector have been sounding the alarm on the impact of the pandemic on people's mental well-being since the beginning.  

In September, Times of Malta reported that emergency doctors had undergone psychiatric training as the number of patients seeking urgent help for a range of issues stemming from mental disorders “spiked” throughout the pandemic.

The doctors faced an increase in the number of patients heading to emergency complaining of chest pains, which turned out to be caused by anxiety.

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