De Lima concerned about increasing mental health cases

Published June 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has urged the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the reported increase in the number of mental health incidents in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


In filing Senate Resolution No. 439, De Lima said the Senate should review the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11036, or the Mental Health Act, in order to be able to craft and integrate a comprehensive mental health strategy in relation to the government’s response to the coronavirus disease.

“Issues on mental health is far deeper than we think and imagine, and reek more intensely in our society as everyone is mandated to be confined at home,” De Lima said in a statement.

“Everyone has all the time to be alone with their minds during a pandemic when nothing is certain, and the future is still a blur,” she said.

She acknowledged, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected, not only Filipinos, but millions of people worldwide.

“It is one big invisible enemy that malevolently attacks every aspect of our health. It causes turmoil of emotions and storms of anxiety which is greatly affecting our mental health,” she added.

The senator said the World Health Organization (WHO), itself stated that “[m]ore than 100 million people suffer from mental disorders in the Western Pacific region, including the Philippines, with depressive disorders accounting for 5.73 percent of mental disorders in the region.”

But despite the enactment of the Mental Health Law, the Philippine Psychiatric Association is concerned that the number and distribution of mental health workers in the country remains a problem during the pandemic.

The Philippines reportedly has only one psychiatrist for every 250,000 population, which is very far from the ideal ratio of one psychiatrist to 50,000 population.

The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) recently confirmed that the hospital’s 24/7 helpline has been flooded with individuals seeking mental health interventions, with roughly around 300 to 400 calls per month from the previous 60-80 calls monthly, after restrictions were enforced to control the spread of COVID-19.

Doctors have said that most of the calls they received were from people who suffer from anxiety and depression.

“Everyone right now, from our healthcare frontliners, members of the labor sector, up to those who are staying at home, are all experiencing different levels of grief, stress, confusion and anxiety and it is ultimately our duty to ensure that their mental health are not compromised during a pandemic,” De Lima pointed out.

“Our much vaunted resilience is a direct result of our capacity to properly process the challenges that meet our country. Thus, there is need to ensure that the mental health of our country is not being ignored,” she stressed.