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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, October 16, 2020
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Mental health awareness

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A recent briefing by the Department of Health revealed that a national prevalence study on mental, neurological and substance use disorders found around 3.6 million Filipinos suffering from mental disorders amid the coronavirus pandemic.

DOH National Mental Health Program manager Frances Prescila Cuevas said the number could go higher as the survey covered only three selected conditions. The DOH is expecting the “full spectrum of the results” next year.

DOH data showed that the most number of calls came from people suffering from depression with 1,145,871 followed by alcohol use disorder at 874,145. Bipolar and drug use disorders tallied 520,614, epilepsy at 349,058, and schizophrenia numbered 213,422.

Cuevas noted an alarming spike in the number of calls received by the National Center for Mental Health crisis hotline. The average monthly calls to the NCMH hotline has risen to 907, 53 of which were suicide related.

The top three reasons for calling were related to anxiety, asking for referrals to psychiatrists and inquiries regarding hospital services. The callers ages ranged from 18 to 30 and were mostly women.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had earlier called on the people to work together to increase awareness and address mental health concerns during the pandemic. He underscored that mental health is a “serious matter and could not be left unattended.” He urged those who have mental health problems not to hesitate in calling hotlines because there “is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to taking better care of one’s mind.”

Six months into the many lockdowns and quarantine restrictions that we have been subjected to, mental health has naturally become a concern. The accumulation of stresses brought about by isolation, loss of jobs or income, worrying over the coronavirus and adapting to the changes, or even toxic housemates, can push those who are already vulnerable to mental health disorders over the brink. We will need to be more vigilant and sensitive towards our loved ones these days to make sure that we can detect red flags and extend assistance and seek professional help when it becomes necessary.

The more we know about mental health disorders, the more sensitive we become, allowing us to intervene if loved ones become affected. Let us take the time to educate ourselves and increase awareness in order to protect the mental health of the people we have been sharing our lives with for the past months.*


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