Whenever we hear talks about mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, many people tend to shift interest, and a lot of us are not fully aware of it which is seen as the biggest problem of today’s generation—lack of knowledge with shallow minds.
People who have diagnosed with mental illness are one of the major victims of prejudice and societal judgments, and people with a lack of knowledge about these health problems simply dismiss this concern as plain drama or just lazy to move on with their lives which is evidently absurd.
This year, the celebration of 'World Mental Health Day' is a very crucial time for all of us as we are all facing the horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme “Mental Health for All”, greater Investment-Greater Access” is all reaching everybody. It necessitates that even if we’re all under the current global health emergency, no-one should be denied mental health care. It should be available for all.
According to the World Health Organization, the goal of this year’s campaign is to increase investment in mental health.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization stated: “The world is accepting the concept of universal health coverage. Mental health must be an integral part of UHC. Nobody should be denied access to mental health care because she or he is poor or lives in a remote place.”
Pandemic anxiety is one of today’s root causes which trigger major mental illnesses. The uncertainty of time makes us vulnerable, weak, and anxious. The sudden shift in our lives is taking a toll on our whole system, adapting to different set-ups adds up to our thinking, and this is a huge problem.
Read: Pandemic Anxiety is Real! Here are Self Care Tips to Calm Your Mind
ARE WE AWARE OF MENTAL HEALTH ILLNESS?
In the Philippines, The National Center for Mental Health says an average of 876 calls are made to the center since quarantine measures were first implemented in March.
Read: Depression, Mood Disorder on the rise during the pandemic
This alarming situation in the country has taken a toll on many Filipinos, and the overwhelming number of reports has urged the mental institution to double its effort and aid those who in need to the best of their abilities.
In one of the press briefings of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire last August, she cited NCMH figures that showed 9,494 Filipinos so far were provided mental health services since May 2019 when the hotline was set up.
The DOH said it has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) in raising public mental health awareness. It has launched a multi-sectoral approach for mental health with programs and interventions across a variety of settings such as in workplaces, schools, communities targeting high-risk groups especially those who are undergoing severe forms of depression.
Why do the cases spiking? Assumingly, awareness is poor and not solely enough to address this issue. The never-ending stigma will always be there, and it’s a challenge for us to fight against it.
In an article published by humanhealthproject.org in 2014, it says that mental health awareness is not enough to address the issue, Prevention and intervention is needed ‘cause the main problem starts within people who are victims of stigma and discrimination, and they neglect to seek of help for their illness, perhaps due to fear, shame, or lack of understanding.
In 2018, mental health advocates hailed a “major victory,” when President Rodrigo Duterte signed the mental health law, Republic Act 11036, which praised for being the first legislation to recognize the fundamental right of all Filipinos to mental health services in nearly 30 years as one of the last few countries in the world without a mental health law.
Two years after it became a law, mental health awareness is thriving in the country with multiple supports from different public and private organizations that aim to stamp out stigma.
In line with the celebration of ‘World Mental Health Day’, here are some events and activities in the country:
- 24-hour virtual global march for mental health
- PMHA's National Mental Health Week webinars
- Quezon City Public Library's 'Distress or De-Stress' webinar
- University of the Philippines Mental Health Month
- 'Sama-sama' by Ateneo's Sanggunian: Commission on Mental Health
- PUP's 'Kumusta ka?' online webinar
- Maranatha Christian Academy of Imus' Psychedteens webinar
The issue of mental health will still have to come a long way before society will fully grasp its risk and understand the proper way to address it. But regardless of this, always remember, you are not alone!