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A Survey on Chinese Counseling Hotline Services

COVID-19 have first outbroken in Wuhan at the very beginning of 2020, and quickly spread across the country, and later over the world. And WHO have made the claim that the outbreak of COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic worldwide on March 11th. With a series of actions implemented as public health emergency intervention by the Chinese government, the pandemic has been well controlled. In the meanwhile, from late January 2020, over 400 Counseling Hotlines have been established or modified from crisis intervention hotline in Mainland-China to help people deal with the panic of unknown and help to maintain psychological health. Due to the highly contagious infectious feature of the COVID-19, citizens all over the country have been motivated to stay home, which make the hotline service become one of the most available way to get the mental health service.

In the aim of helping the residences get appropriate, quality guaranteed hotline services, as well as to help to build the norm of hotline services in Mainland China,  Division of Clinical and Counseling Psychology Chinese Psychological Society and the Registration System Congress of Chinese Clinical and Counseling Psychologists launched a project of investigating the running hotline service on February 15, 2020. Up to now, 416 Counseling Hotline service administrators have participated this project.

The evaluation system contains 23 indexes which could classified into five dimensions, including working facilities, professional qualification of counselors, service norm and management standards.

Seventy-eight top hotlines, which maintain high standard in both professional and service quality have been recommended to the public by four stages. Several shared characters have been found among these hotlines,

  1. Mental health professionals such as psychology and psychiatry professors in universities, psychiatrists were deeply engaged in the organize and manage work of the hotline service.
  2. Counselors who worked for these hotlines were screened or under some circumstance, interviewed online to make sure they have appropriate competence in counseling. Usually, counselors that have been chosen, tend to have great enthusiasm in service with a master’s degree in relative discipline, or a certificate of counselor.
  3. There is a professional and practical work manual for hotline service supplier, which including the crisis intervention procedure, referral scheme and regulations for hotline counselors.
  4. They tend to have supervision system implementing by competent supervisors. Many hotlines invited Registered Supervisors of Chinese Psychological Society to supervise counselors’ work. Hierarchical supervisory schema has been built in those hotlines which have more than a hundred counselors, which means they arrange supervisors by group of counselors and deliver the supervision for group supervisors by higher level supervisors.
  5. Pre-job training and essential learning resources was available and working atmosphere was supportive.
  6. Reliable telecommunication devices and proper encryption technique were adopted. New techniques have been adopted in addition to the traditional hotline form, virtual telephone supported by telecommunications system and mobile apps which designed specifically for this special circumstance, which had improved the convenience of multi-line access and transfer. Some hotlines, such as Ministry of Education-Central China Normal University(MOE-CCNU)Mental Health Service Platform has also developed a text counseling platform. With the support of those technology, the counselors could serve the clients through audio or video chat, or even text from their residence with the guarantee of confidentiality.

In addition, the Registration System Congress of Chinese Clinical and Counseling Psychologists have published the Guideline of Counseling Hotline First-aid and the Implementing Regulations of Ethics of Counseling Hotline Service during the outbreak of COVID-19, which have provided guidance to hotline service professionally and normatively, and promoted the virtuous development of hotline work. Many hotlines are organized and operated according to these guidelines.

As a matter of fact, work through hotlines gives the counselors more flexibility in working arrangement and helped to cut off the directly contact which helped to slow down the spread of the virus while make the psychological help accessible during the pandemic. Therefore, it is no wonder that some of the hotlines have received tens of thousands of calls for the last two months as it is such a widely covered way of delivering the psychological assistance. In addition, with the time limitation of each call to the hotline, the service has to be served with a more directive manner, which is a good match to the anticipation of clients in Chinese culture. All in all, counseling hotline service in China has played an active role to release social pressure and to rebuild the routine of daily life before the pandemic.

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Cite This Article

Cheng, Y. & Lin, X. (2020, May). A survey on Chinese counseling hotline services. [Web article]. Retrieved from https://societyforpsychotherapy.org/a-survey-on-chinese-counseling-hotline-services

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