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Time to Break the Stigma: A Story of Struggle and Perseverance
By Almira Louise Martinez 12 Oct 2022 173

TW: Suicide, Depression, Anxiety, Mental Health Issues

As the pandemic hit the globe, people, more commonly young adults, experiencing anxiety and depression increased by 25%. With the lockdown and social isolation happening for almost a year, World Health Organization reported that the mental health of younger generations is “disproportionally” at risk of suicidal and self-harming behaviors. Alongside this, the increase in the number of people struggling with mental health concerns is also a result of unprecedented stress due to constraints on the ability to work, physical connection and support from loved ones, and overall community engagement. 


A 21-year-old student who experienced depression amid the pandemic shared how he bravely fought and bounced back from the pits of darkness. His journey began in late 2020 with the self-realization he needed to help himself because ‘things are getting out of control.’ According to him, the Mental Health discussion in the Philippines is not the most talked about among other health issues. In the Philippines, the high stigmatization of mental illness roots in Filipino values, hiya, or a sense of shame to propriety.


“Although we are leaning toward mental health progress or revolution, old habits and culture are hindering us,” the student said. 


Throughout this battle with depression, one of the most difficult challenges was his relationship with loved ones. Due to what he’s going through, maintaining his relationship with friends and family became a strenuous task. More so, performing daily tasks also became a grueling chore for him. Despite these complications, he paved his way to redemption by seeking professional help. By consulting with a psychometrician, psychiatrist, and counselor, he received self-help options - both long-term and band-aid solutions. Though, because he was seeking counseling services and psychiatric interventions at the university alone, he only received ‘basic help.’ 

Today, with the assistance of self-help activities introduced by professionals, he can confidently say that his mental health is in a better condition now. Even though he feels like the tendency to relapse again starts creeping up in some instances, he is now more assertive to face it because he already knows the necessary measures to prevent it. “Overall, I am okay now, but I just think I have tendencies to be mentally unstable again, but I’m doing everything that I can to prevent this,” he stated. 


Before wrapping up his narrative, the college student wants to remind Filipinos that there is no shame in admitting you need help. “Get help, things may go beyond our control, but at the end of the day, there is available help. We just need to seek it,” he concluded. 


In the Philippines, the continuous battle to abolish the stigma against mental illnesses persists up to this day. Dr. Constantine Chua, the chief resident of the PGH Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, claimed that the overall healing of an individual’s well-being is not dependent on medicine and science alone. “Mental health is not just the role of doctors or clinical psychologists… The whole community will really play a role,” she clarified. 


A simple “Kumusta?” goes a long way during these difficult moments. Start a conversation with your loved ones today because they might need a shoulder to cry on or a lending ear. Make your presence known and remind them that you have their back. 


If you are struggling or know someone who needs help, do not hesitate to contact the numbers below. 


Luzon-wide landline toll-free: 1553 

Globe/TM Subscribers: 0966-351-4518 / 0917-899-8727 / 0917-899-USAP

Smart/Sun/TNT Subscribers: 0908-639-2672


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