February 1, 2023

 The Department of Health and the World Health Organization are jointly raising awareness on the importance of public mental health, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the Philippines has consistently ranked in the top 5 of a global optimism index, the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) has revealed a significant increase in monthly hotline calls regarding depression, with numbers rising from 80 calls pre-lockdown to nearly 400.
Globally, the most vulnerable population is those aged 15 to 29. Mental health-related deaths are also the second leading cause of fatalities in this age group. These numbers illustrate the need for more conversations and programs that will break the stigma around mental health. Most times, Filipinos do not feel comfortable sharing their mental health challenges for fear of alienation or prejudice.
“The importance of mental health initiatives is just as crucial as those for the Covid-19 pandemic,” Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said in a press release.
“Now more than ever, we need to promote holistic health, where we are caring for the body, the mind, and even the spirit.”
The DOH has launched a multi-sectoral approach for mental health with programs and interventions across a variety of settings aimed at high-risk groups.
The commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day also calls attention to the plight of those who are undergoing severe forms of depression.
Another project is the development of a multi-sectoral National Suicide Prevention Strategy, which includes psychosocial services such as the NCMH’s Crisis Hotline “Kumusta Ka?, Tara Usap Tayo,” launched on May 2, 2019. The hotline is available 24/7 for prompt psychological first aid.
The UP Diliman Psychosocial Services has also provided free counselling via telephone for frontliners.
Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act mandates the provision of comprehensive suicide prevention services encompassing crisis intervention and a response strategy on a nationwide scale. – DOH release