Prague extends 24/7 mental-health crisis line through the end of the year

The anonymous helpline at the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital has seen in increase of callers due to the pandemic.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 18.10.2021 14:02 (updated on 18.10.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital’s crisis assistance phone line will operate around the clock until the end of the year, thanks to co-financing approved by Prague City Hall. Due to the pandemic, the number of people calling the helpline increased, and the demand has driven up the operating costs.

The city gave the helpline a CZK 500,000 subsidy so it can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of 2021. While the line is based in Prague, people from across the Czech Republic use it. The line is primarily geared for Czech speakers.

“The loss of a loved one, a relationship crisis, loss of a job, a sudden deterioration of mental state – the helpline helps people from all over our country cope with difficult life situations,” City Councilor Milena Johnová, responsible for social policy and healthcare, said in a press release.

“With the subsidy, we will help co-finance the continuous operation of the helpline and prevent outages that could have tragic consequences,” Johnová added.

The helpline, at phone number 284 016 66, is part of Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital’s Crisis Intervention Center. The line has been operating since 1991 and serves more than 15,000 people a year. The operating cost of the anonymous telephone crisis assistance service is not covered by health insurance companies, but it is an important link between a person in crisis and professional assistance.

The extended Coronavirus pandemic, related anti-virus measures, and forced social isolation have caused psychological problems for not only adults but also children. This led to a significant increase in the number of callers.

“We appreciate that the City of Prague has decided to continue supporting Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital’s telephone crisis line. Increasing the subsidy will allow us to maintain the quality of the provided services,” Dr. Martin Hollý, director of the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital, said.

While the pandemic, in particular, led to a rise in callers, there has also been a long-term trend.

“The number of callers has been growing in recent years. Since 2010, there have been approximately twice as many,” Dr. Hollý added.

The helpline is anonymous. Callers do not have to introduce themselves to the employee who answers the call. According to Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital, anonymity promotes a sense of security and the necessary intimacy on the part of the caller.

The employee answering the phone also remains anonymous. The calls are not recorded, and the telephone number of the caller is not logged. Employees are bound by confidentiality agreements. There is no fee for using the service, though standard phone call charges apply based on the caller’s service tariff.

Mental health support available for foreigners in the Czech Republic

  • Prague Integration has a weekly support group.
  • #delamcomuzu is a project offering mental health support to expats.
  • terap.io has a number of online therapy sessions for English speakers.
  • Charles University offers individual or group psychological counseling in English FREE for full-time students at the university.
  • The Czech government has a helpline on 1221 that includes mental-health support.
  • Visit our directory of mental health experts to book an online therapy session.

The helpline is not an emergency service line. The people who answer, for example, cannot send an ambulance, arrange for hospitalization, or prescribe medication. It is also not a hospital switchboard. Employees cannot provide information about hospitalized people, or transfer calls to other hospital departments.

If the Crisis Intervention Center’s helpline is busy, alternative numbers include the Prague Helpline at 222 580 697 and the psychiatric first air number at 116 123.

People having a crisis can also visit Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital’s Crisis Intervention Center in person at Ústavní 91 in Prague 8, also on a round-the-clock basis.

A pamphlet on Crisis Intervention Center, in Czech, is available and a categorized list of more help numbers is here.

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