Telemental health care in times of psychological instability: call 188

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Victor Araújo Rabelo and Mr. João Pedro Cadore, two 22 years old fourth year medical students at UniCesumar, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Until recently, care for mental illnesses was centered in psychiatric hospitals, with inpatient conduct and heavy drug treatment. However, this process has been constantly modified and the bond with patients is growing. In this deconstruction process, the care policy for psychiatric illnesses, the decrease in hospital admissions and the creation of other services that replace psychiatric hospitals have a central role.¹

Thereby, several alternatives were created. One is the Telemedicine, a popular information and communication system to provide and support distant healthcare services, of which mental care is a major domain. In addition to breaking barriers such as distance, it provides them with easy access to modern and efficient health services and reliable diagnosis, as well as being economical.²

The current pandemic situation generated by COVID-19 has a direct impact on society as a whole, negatively affecting health, mainly mental health. In order to prove support in that context, there is the brazillian service of emotional support and suicide prevention – Center of Valuation of Life (“Centro de Valorização à Vida” in Portuguese).³

This Center uses a very simple strategy to assist people who have a psychological illnesses and needs emotional support: just call 188 or start a chat to get psychological support through hundreds of volunteers spread throughout Brazil. The Center of Apreciation of Life is available 24 hours a day and has voluntary attendants willing to talk without criticizing, offering affection, attention and host, ensuring anonymity and confidentiality.³

Most people with depression or other psychiatric disorders are ashamed to expose themselves for fear of judgment and this ends up making the situation worse4. Therefore, with the confidentiality of the service, there is a guarantee that the person can have total openness to speak with a volunteer. And to become a volunteer, the way is very simple, you just have to be over 18 years old, 4 hours a week, take a free training course – which can be personally at some center or online – and a lot of desire to help5.

In alternative to the Center of Valuation of Life, there is the Mobile Emergency Medical Services (“Serviço de Atendimento Móvel de Urgência” in Portuguese). It is an emergency response service. Thus, patients who need immediate care have the possibility to use this service. The way to use it is similar to the Center, that is, by phone number 192.6

In times of pandemic, where mental health is so shaken, being a volunteer means a lot, and the process is beneficial bilaterally, since the volunteer also goes through a process of self-knowledge. With this, we reaffirm the premise that it is essential to guarantee protection from psychological diseases in all months of the year, and not only in the yellow September.


  • Karla Viana Costa. “Mental health: A public health challenge”. Cited in 2020 July 23. Available from:
  • Langarizadeh M, Tabatabaei MS, Tavakol K, Naghipour M, Rostami A, Moghbeli F. Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: a Systematic Review. Acta Inform Med. 2017;25(4):240-246. doi:10.5455/aim.2017.25.240-246.

About the authors

Victor Araújo Rabelo is a 22 years old fourth year medical student at UniCesumar, Brazil. He is working as Local Communication and Marketing Director at IFMSA Brazil UniCesumar and Minicourses Coordinator of the Miguel Nicolelis Academic Center. Moreover, He is a member of the Intensive Care League, Surgery League and Medical Clinic League.

João Pedro Cadore is a 22 years old fourth year medical student at UniCesumar, Brazil. He is a monitor of clinical skills discipline and member of Surgery and Pneumology League.

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