Credit: MSAN

Last week, the psychological support service of Luxembourg's COVID-19 hotline received 150 phone calls.

Following the launch of the national COVID-19 hotline (and subsequently a hotline taking calls from abroad) in early March, Luxembourg's Ministry of Health added a multilingual psychological support service at the start of last week. The service, reachable via the hotline 8002-8080, offers support to those who need it during the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Support is provided by highly qualified teams seven days a week, from 07:00 to 23:00. 

In a telephone interview with Dr. Mareike Bönigk, Head of Psychological Support in the Ministry of Health's Crisis Unit, learned that 150 calls had been made to the new psychological support service between Tuesday and Saturday last week. Most calls came from people who were afraid of getting ill, dying or losing a loved one to coronavirus. Many of these callers were individuals from already vulnerable groups, whose feelings of loneliness and isolation have been exasperated by the current crisis and associated confinement. Some calls also came from people worried about losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

Dr. Mareike Bönigk confirmed that there are always two psychologists available to take calls from the hotline at any one time. In addition, these professionals can rely on a bigger network and additional resources to improve their support service. For instance, many psychotherapists are on call from their own medical practices and thus also available to assist their colleagues on the hotline. If needed, the psychologists can transfer individual calls to a psychotherapist or another service (such as Femmes en détresse asbl for domestic abuse victims) directly for more specific support. In fact, all of Luxembourg's psychosocial structures are active at present. 

Regarding the multilingual nature of this relatively new support service, callers can choose to speak to a psychologist in English, French, German or Luxembourgish. Some of the team also speak other languages, such as Portuguese or Italian, although support in these languages would depend on the availability of the psychologists in question. 

While recognising that a lot of work is needed to support the population during (and indeed after) the crisis, Dr. Mareike Bönigk stressed that Luxembourg already has a very good healthcare system in place, a system which medical professionals can now rely on.

As a reminder, psychological support is available via the COVID-19 hotline at 8002-8080 or +352-497-719200 for calls from abroad, for instance for cross-border workers. D'Ligue and its partners, in collaboration with the Health Ministry, also launched a complementary website dedicated to mental health on Tuesday: