According to NATAL, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Helpline has received approximately 6,000 calls • 40% of callers are 70 years old or older • Main concern: loneliness and helplessness.

Noam Dvir
Israel Hayom
April 5th, 2020

More women than men are calling to receive help, and the elderly are more concerned. Ever since NATAL’s Helpline has opened to the general public to assist in coping with anxiety related to the COVID-19 outbreak, thousands of calls have been received.

Two weeks ago, NATAL (Israel’s Trauma and Resiliency Center) announced it is opening their Helpline, which typically assists victims of national terror, to the general public in order to assist anyone suffering from anxiety as a result of the outbreak. 

Ever since, the Helpline has received approximately 6,000 calls, averaging about 300 new calls per day. The clinicians at NATAL say there seems to be a correlation between the worsening of national guidelines and reports of stress and anxiety. This was clear to say once the lockdown guidelines were intensified for Passover, and calls to the Helpline doubled. 

Another record spike in calls was shortly after the report of the very first COVID-19 related death in Israel, and reports of high chances of contagion and death in nursing homes. It was then that the number of calls from the elderly spiked. 40% of calls are from people 70 years old and above, and their main concern is loneliness and helplessness. 35% of callers between the ages of 45-60 report that they, too, are concerned for their family’s well-being, especially their parents. 25% of callers ages 45 and below are mostly new parents concerned for their young children. 

According to the statistics, the majority of calls are from women (62%), and only 38% of calls are from men. The peak hours of the Helpline are between 16:00 to 20:00. 83% of daily calls are received during that time frame, which is the same time news broadcasts begin on the major channels. 

NATAL has dozens of volunteers helping people cope with post-trauma due to national events, such as war and terrorist attacks. Two weeks ago, NATAL chose to open up the Helpline to anyone suffering from stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Simultaneously, Helpline workers report they are still providing help for national-based trauma. 

Orly Gal, NATAL’s CEO, says: “We are in the midst of a war on consciousness, requiring us to change our routines and adjust to a complex reality, one which our minds often struggle to wrap around. Therefore we encourage all of those in need of support and mental help to reach out to us”. The NATAL Helpline operates every day, 24/7, and can be reached at 1-800-363-363.