In response to increased mental health concerns since the Movement Control Order (MCO) kicked in, MERCY Malaysia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC), has set up a dedicated hotline, powered by Digi’s virtual business system, Omni Hotline, to provide counselling to those requiring assistance during these unprecedented times. To date, the hotline has received over 1,500 calls with queries ranging from seeking help with mental health related issues to getting access to food and medical aid.
A team of 31 psychosocial volunteers from MERCY Malaysia and 10 volunteer-counsellors from MoH managed and serviced the calls through Digi’s Omni Hotline, a digital office phone solution that operates fully on smartphones and provides landline numbers without the need for desk phones.
Given that the volunteers and counsellors are located at various locations across Malaysia, and with the MCO restricting mobility, it was not possible for all of them to be physically present at MERCY Malaysia’s offices to attend to the calls. Omni Hotline became a vital digital tool that enabled them to take the calls via the Omni app on their smartphones from wherever they are, yet maintain an official landline number for the public to dial, instead of the volunteers’ personal mobile numbers.
Furthermore, the non-profit organisation had no prior experience in operating a call centre or hotline, but with hundreds of callers in need of their assistance, leveraging digital tools to help run their operations proved to be a practical and effective solution. Omni Hotline equipped them with the capability to receive hundreds of calls at any time, and redirect these calls to the counsellors’ mobile phones.
Ir Amran Mahzan, Executive Director of MERCY Malaysia said, “We are offering psychosocial assistance to all individuals affected by the Covid-19 crisis, in line with our aim of ensuring everyone stays physically and mentally healthy during this challenging period. We deal with everything from anxiety and stress, mental breakdowns to suicidal tendencies. It can get overwhelming at times but we’re glad to have Omni Hotline as a handy digital tool to help us organise our operations efficiently, so that our team can focus fully on ensuring everyone who needs our counselling and support are cared for.”
Amran also shared that as the support hotline operates daily from 8AM to 5PM, being able to set the business hours function has been a key feature for the organisation as it allows callers to be redirected to voicemail, so that the volunteers would never miss a call even after their shift ends, and could also refer to the itemised call logs on the app’s dashboard to make callbacks the next day.
Besides that, through Omni Hotline’s department extension feature, MERCY Malaysia was able to cluster multiple numbers under a single point of contact.
Kathryn Lee, Head of Products at Digi-X, the venture building arm of Digi commented, “MERCY Malaysia was equipped to launch their mental health hotline almost immediately with Omni Hotline. We are encouraged to see how digital solutions can also empower non-profit organisations (NPOs) to help and serve the community better, besides helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their businesses. The flexibility of Omni Hotline also allows MERCY Malaysia to downscale or upscale their operations on demand, which is crucial for SMEs in any industry. More work has to be done virtually with the shift in working environment, hence we will continue to push and support SMEs and NPOs alike to leverage digital tools to boost their operations.”
MERCY Malaysia’s psychosocial hotline is a non-clinical service for the public. With the success of the hotline, it is now linked to the Women’s Aid Organisation’s (WAO) domestic violence hotline, where callers are given a third option of speaking to a WAO crisis support officer on cases of child abuse and domestic violence. Public who wish to speak to a counsellor can call the hotline at 03-2935 9935.
In line with initiatives to assist relevant government agencies on services needed to address the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and to help customers stay connected with their social, learning and work life during this time, Digi have also zero-rated the following critical service hotlines and websites for customers including Ministry of Health’s (“MOH”) Crisis Preparedness Response Centre (CPRC), MoH state branches, identified Covid-10 screening and admitting hospitals, the MCO hotline, MoH’s official website as well as other important helplines such as Befrienders KL and Penang, Talian Nur and Childline.
For more information on Omni Hotline, visit www.omnihotline.my.