“That’s not depression, you’re just sad.” “Depression? It’s just for the rich.” “Go out so you’ll stop being sad.”
These, among other statements, are the reasons many who suffer from depression and other mental health problems are afraid to talk about their condition. Statements like these also show how misinformed and uneducated many of us are when it comes to this problem.
According to a 2017 study, 970 million people around the world suffer from a mental or substance use disorder, accounting for around 5 percent of global disease burden.
In the Philippines, 3.3 million people suffer from depression, and another 3.1 million suffer from anxiety disorders. In 2012, there were a total of 2,558 suicide cases recorded.
For its #BreakTheStigma campaign, pharmaceutical company Upjohn organized an intimate event hosted by Dr. Gia Sison, together with Dr. Robert Buenaventura, Janna Pulido, and Riyan Portuguez, in a bid to address the misconceptions on mental health
“There is still stigma when it comes to seeking help for mental health disorders in the Philippines,” says Dr. Buenaventura, board secretary and life fellow of the Philippine Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Buenaventura added that mental illnesses should be always discussed to raise more awareness.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sison shared her insights and perspective, particularly the pros and cons of technologies with regard to mental health.
“I do think technology has a lot to do with the improvement of a lot of people’s perception about mental health issues. The Internet provides such a wealth of information at the click of a finger. But this is dangerous too, because even online, there are so many false statements that need to be unpacked first to get to the facts,” she says.
Recognizing their role in the exacerbation of stigma of mental health, social networking platforms have been doing its best to help and prevent suicide among netizens.
Twitter, for instance, allows users who see tweets containing possible threats of suicide to report it to them by filling up a form. The site will then directly contact the reported user and notify them that “someone who cares about them identified that they might be at risk.”
It will then provide “the reported user with available online and hotline resources, and encourage them to seek help.”
Experts also shared some of the ways to help those who suffer from this problem stress, such as going out with friends, going to the gym, and attending church
If you or someone you know needs assistance, help is available. Contact the National Center for Mental Health crisis hotline at 0917-899 8727 (USAP) and 7989-8727 (USAP).
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