It’s only natural wanting to tell someone about your feelings after a bad day. But it’s a luxury not everyone can afford.
Call Me Today is a nonprofit organisation with a purpose to listen to people talk about their hard times, emotions and thoughts via phone. Each individual is allocated one hour. You don’t need to give your identity. Just pick your phone and let it out.
Kyaw Zin, the founder of Call Me Today, says “Our organisation is self-funded and nonprofit. We’re aiming for achieving nationwide access in mental health support and raising awareness among the public.”
The organisation has been running since 2018 with three functioning segments: Management, Counsellors, and Content Writers. All the members are working voluntarily and independently, under the guidance of Call Me Today frameworks and mentorship.
Currently, it has 23 volunteers, a significant increase from 10 in the early days of the project.
“To be a counsellor, one must have experience and/or related academic background in counseling and psychosocial works.
“To be a content writer, one can submit their articles directly to us. We will credit them and post their work if it is relevant.”
Between 2018 and March 2020, they had received more than 200 calls.
The counsellors have been receiving more calls since COVID-19 hit the country. Previously, the usual topic was relationship problems. The callers are more comfortable when they talk with the same gender counsellors when it comes to discussing their relationships.
But, now, the counsellors have found themselves listening more to occupational anxieties, divorces and fears of unemployment.
Demographically, women in the age of 20-35 use the service more. In the past two months, the organisation received 111 calls (41 are pandemic-related) and 67 per cent of them were from women and 5 per cent, LGBTQ people.
“White-collar workers tend to call us more,” says the founder.
“But it doesn’t mean blue-collars are doing okay. During our group counselling in Shwe Pyi Thar, we saw there were problems like unfair management in their work and trauma they got from their neighbourhoods and families. They’re more relying on their friends and colleagues. Blue-collar workers rarely trust those who come from the city and help them. Among 12 of the calls from blue-collar workers, their topic was asking for help to relieve their hunger, rent and supplies. Some of them did not receive the supplies from the government.”
When asked if Myanmar people are reluctant to open up about their mental health, the founder replies: “Yes.” adding, “We are still very new to this field and some people think this is not helpful. Also, they are sensitive to counsellors’ identity. Some people do not want to talk with male counsellors. Somehow they find it more difficult to open up with a man.”
The founder says they had to overcome trust issues since people think their project was a scam to steal the phone numbers for commercial purposes.
“Compared to 2018, people are more familiar with what we do.”
Now they have launched dedicated helplines for manual labourers through a partnership with People In Need Myanmar and Helvetas Myanmar. This project is funded by LIFT Myanmar, a multi-donor fund managed by UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services).
Besides the helplines, they are also running live educational talk sessions with psychiatrists and psychologists on Facebook.
The service is mainly in Burmese. If you want an English-speaking counsellor, you have to make an appointment first.
Helpline for all
Every weekday 5:00 PM – 12:00 AM
09 693 551 748
Helpline for manual labourers
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Wednesday off
09 885 362 489
09 782 383 145
09 985 055 664
09 685 223 055
Both services are free.