Mental health experts needed as COVID is 'driving Pinoys nuts' -- solon

The mental stress caused by the persisting COVID-19 pandemic may be taking its toll on Filipinos, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez warned on Monday.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez

According to Rodriguez, the fear alone of getting infected with the new coronavirus “is driving many Filipinos nuts.”

“This prolonged pandemic is adversely affecting the mental health of tens of thousands if not millions among us. Worries of being sick with COVID, no work, no food or less food to eat, being unable to go outdoors, pressure to earn for the family, sickness in the family, depressing news of friends infected with and dying of COVID, unable to continue school, inability to get physical comfort from friends and relatives--all these result in deteriorating mental health of our people,” he said.

Adding to these worries is "the uncertainty of when this infectious virus wreaking havoc on our lives will go away,” the Mindanaoan said.

To address this, Rodriguez urged the government to hire more guidance counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health specialists to help people cope with mental issues.

He also said the national government and local government units (LGUs) should prepare facilities for counseling and treating people with psychological problems.

On the part of Congress, the veteran lawmaker said the legislature should expedite the approval of proposals for the hiring of more mental health personnel and construction of mental health facilities.

One such measure is House Bill (HB) No.2732, which Rodriguez filed in July, 2018. The bill is titled, “An Act to recruit, hire, and train additional school-based guidance counsellors, psychologists, social workers, and mental health personnel.”

The proposed law provides that each public elementary and secondary school should have at least three counsellors, one psychologist, and one social worker.

Rodriguez stated in the bill that schools should promote the mental health of students, aside from focusing on their academic or curricular development.