Unique National Helpline for Sexual and Gender Health is being established in Czechia, aiming to offer comprehensive interventions and support

20.2.2024, KLECANY – Since July 2023, the SexHelp helpline has been operating in the Czech Republic as the National Helpline for Sexual and Gender Health. It is run by the Center for Sexual Health and Intervention of the National Institute of Mental Health. Initially focused on sexual preferences and problematic sexual behavior, it is now expanding to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Subsequently, areas such as sexual dysfunctions and addictive behavior in sexuality will also be addressed. The helpline services are provided free of charge and anonymously, and they are available to both individuals seeking assistance and to their close ones and professionals who require guidance in sexual health matters.

"This is a unique concept that builds upon good practices both domestically and abroad. Despite minimal promotion, the initial interest already rivals that of similar helplines operating internationally. Now, the focus is expanding to include sexual orientation, transgender, and gender-diverse identities. In subsequent phases, we plan to address additional sexological issues such as sexual dysfunctions and compulsive/addictive behavior in sexuality. This expansion is scheduled to take place throughout 2024," describes Kateřina Klapilová, head of the Center for Sexual Health and Intervention at NUDZ. The SexHelp: National Helpline for Sexual and Gender Health is available at +420 314 004 002, and more information about the helpline's focus, including operating hours, can be found on the website sexhelplinka.cz.

Safe Environment

"The helpline will provide intervention, information, and support for all mentioned groups, primarily focusing on the impact of sexual orientation on individuals' health. This includes addressing anxiety-depressive syndromes, suicidal thoughts, coming out experiences, experiences of bullying or discrimination, and treatment options in healthcare. For transgender and gender-diverse clients, there will also be opportunities to discuss gender identity-related questions and receive information about hormone therapy access and the transition process. The helpline is staffed by trained crisis counselors, enabling callers to speak confidentially and, if necessary, receive referrals for further consultation with therapists/psychologists or medical professionals, as well as information about additional support resources and where to find them. Repeated consultations are possible in acute cases," explains Kateřina Klapilová.

"We aim to create a safe environment on the helpline where people can openly discuss their emotions and questions related to their sexuality and identity. Thanks to our training in these areas, we can not only provide necessary information and support but also ask questions sensitively, which often facilitates the conversation for clients. We are often the first point of contact for individuals discussing their sexual problems or uncertainties, as a safe space for this topic has been lacking in the Czech Republic. Crisis intervention workers and healthcare professionals often lack sufficient space and training to address issues in this area, and problems related to sexuality may catch them off guard. They also often lack information about how sexual health functions and a network of contact points and intervention offers to which they could refer," explains Kateřina Klapilová.

Prejudice-Free Communication

"Our clients most often use our services when they are struggling or do not understand something related to their sexuality and orientation - whether it's about themselves or their loved ones. People approach us when they feel uncertain about the content of their sexual thoughts or behaviors and seek to understand how to deal with this issue. We also work with individuals who are looking for a safe place to express their feelings and concerns about their identity or orientation. But we are not just here for them; we also offer support to their families and professionals. People call us when they need to confide and seek advice," describes Dr. Klapilová.

Consultants can offer immediate support to individuals who find themselves in crisis due to their sexuality and provide information about ways to cope with the situation within the healthcare or other intervention services available in the Czech Republic. "Our helpline is gradually building a database of available professionals and services for individual sexological areas in the Czech Republic, to which clients can be referred if necessary. In addition to healthcare interventions, we also create a database of low-threshold services and available materials for individual areas. This is also unique in the Czech environment. We have already seen positive responses in the first months of operation. Thanks to our previous experiences, we can communicate about sexuality sensitively and without prejudice. This is something that clients repeatedly appreciate," concludes Dr. Klapilová.

For further information, please contact:

Mgr. Jan Červenka

Press Spokesperson

E-mail: jan.cervenka@nudz.cz

Phone: +420 774 851 335