April 17, 2024

While the increase in the number of people advocating mental health using various platforms is a welcome development, the stigma associated with mental illnesses remains.
This is the challenge professionals continue to deal with in the efforts to make consulting mental health experts a normal health-seeking behavior.
Department of Health-Cordillera Senior Health Program Officer Shamgar Douglas Mangida, Jr. said DOH and other health care facilities have several partners advocating mental health, but despite the increasing number of advocates, erasing the stigma and the resulting discrimination remains a tough challenge.
Like other diseases, Mangida said mental illnesses are treatable if people who need help seek early consultation and if only the stigma associated with it is erased.
Studies have proven that one reason people with mental illnesses refuse to seek help is their fear of judgment from others who have prejudice against those with mental disorders.
Mental illnesses do not only refer to schizophrenia or the condition in which an individual has an abnormal interpretation of reality which results in delusions, hallucinations, or disorderly thinking and behavior.
The World Health Organization reported that mental illnesses range from anxiety disorders, depression, and neurodevelopmental disorders among the other forms of mental disorders.
In the Cordillera, the DOH recorded 1,538 cases of mental illnesses in 2020 of which depression had the highest number at 627. There were 73 cases of death by suicide.
There were 423 cases of schizophrenia and 183 cases of bipolar disorder. The other recorded mental disorders are anxiety, epilepsy, psychosis, mental retardation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dementia.
To provide more access sites for people with mental health issues, the DOH has been capacitating rural health centers and their personnel on how to deal with mental health issues.
Mangida said for 2021, there are 88 municipalities in the region with personnel who are trained on mental health as a result of the DOH capacity building.
Each of Baguio City’s 16 district health centers have trained personnel to attend to people with mental illnesses.
Mangida encouraged people who have mental illnesses to seek early consultation and for the public to be mindful of their mental health, adding prevention is always better than cure.
The DOH will participate in the observance of World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 through a webinar on mental health that aims to provide participants with self-care prescriptions to manage stress and reduce anxiety to improve their well-being.
Mangida said mental health matters because if people realize their abilities and potentials, they can cope with the stresses of life and be resilient in the face of extreme life events and therefore can work productively and contribute positively to society.
In the promotion of mental health, Mangida said the DOH conducts online and physical lectures about mental health in schools, workplaces, and in communities.
The DOH also offers physical counselling and online counselling through the agency’s mental health and substance abuse helpline: 0938-767-5458. – Jane B. Cadalig