Saxony-Anhalt: Telephone counseling gets many callers with existential fears

Corona, war and inflation have also increased the number of people seeking help from telephone counseling.

Saxony-Anhalt: Telephone counseling gets many callers with existential fears

Corona, war and inflation have also increased the number of people seeking help from telephone counseling. Here we listen patiently. The anonymity makes it easier for many people.

Halle/Magdeburg/Dessau (dpa/sa) - Inflation and the energy crisis unsettle many people. In Saxony-Anhalt, for example, the telephone counseling service is currently at full capacity and there are sometimes waiting times. "People have a lot of worries, from tears to despair. We really have crying people on the phone who we have to calm down. There are a third more callers," said Gundula Eichert, head of the Halle telephone counseling service.

"Loneliness and relationship and partnership problems are always an issue. Then there are the existential fears," says Eichert. "Many are worried about not being able to pay rent and groceries and becoming homeless. Some can't pay for their medication. Our phones don't ring." In contrast, the topic of the Ukraine war has receded into the background.

"I've been involved for 16 years. It was the best thing that could have happened to me in my life and I hope for the callers too," said Ulrike Hänel. "I get so much back that it's definitely worth it. The work has made me mentally healthier." In addition to the loneliness, the 79-year-old hears the callers' concerns about rising food prices.

There are fears about the future that are in people's heads. "They say I can put on a sweater, that's fine, but I can't eat wood if I don't have anything to eat," says Hänel. "Meanwhile, it's also affecting pensioners who don't have the worst pension. In the middle class, it's single parents. Lonely, older women in particular buy a lot of stuffed animals, which borders on compulsive shopping. With the young, it's more the fear of how I bring myself my family over the month."

“Because of the cost explosion and Corona, the topics are now more focused on the fear of existence,” says Anette Carstens, head of the Magdeburg telephone counseling service. "We are an important contact point for people who do not know where to go with their fears." In addition, the topic of loneliness is becoming more and more important, from around 13 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in the previous year.

In addition to many older people, students also call. The whole thing was exacerbated by Corona and home office. There are also more callers with depressive symptoms. "When there are fears of existence, many people call who have just made ends meet. And everywhere the questions: How will it be? Will we be able to do it? What if not?" said Carstens. "There is also a great deal of shame to report to the citizens' offices. We are only at the preliminary stage, I fear that it will become a harsher reality when the heating bills are out on a large scale."

"More callers are not possible, we call 24 hours a day, there are around 12,000 calls a year. There is a greater need, but we cannot accept more calls," said Andreas Krov-Raak, the head of Dessau telephone counseling. "There are times when telephone counseling is difficult to reach, not because nobody is there, but because there are too many callers."

The energy crisis and inflation occupy a broader space. "Number one is the issue of loneliness, people don't just call us once, they keep calling us," says Krov-Raak. Number two is mental illness. The telephone counseling is often also a waiting room to bridge the time until treatment. Partnership and relationship problems are the number three topic.

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