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Online community offers mental health support

People living with mental illness are often plagued by stigma and misunderstanding of their condition, which usually gets in the way of them seeking treatment. 

Online community offers mental health support
Members of the Hope Bank public group may share messages of hope to encourage others.
According to a 2002 study published in World Psychiatry, World Psychiatric Association’s official journal, self-stigma, and fear of rejection by others lead many persons to not pursuing life opportunities for themselves. 

Thankfully, many are now speaking up and letting the world know that mental health problems exist and are real and that they affect people from all walks of life including well-known personalities. The latest among the celebrities who revealed they are suffering from mental health problems is American singer and actress Selena Gomez, who is reportedly seeking medical treatment after suffering from an emotional breakdown.

The National Statistics Office said the Philippines has the highest number of depressed people in Southeast Asia, with mental illness being the third most common form of disability especially among the youth.

A similar study conducted by the Global Burden of Disease in 2015 also showed that 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders. However, the World Health Organization believed that the number is not reflective of the actual situation since many suicide incidents may not have been reported due to the stigma attached to it.

In a bid to provide a safe online space for everyone to openly express their feelings and thoughts about mental health, Globe Telecom, in partnership with 24/7 health hotline KonsultaMD, has launched Hope Bank. 

Through the Hope Bank Facebook community, a public group, members can share messages of hope that troubled people can access for encouragement, strength, and inspiration. 

To contribute to the platform, members may post using the hashtag #SeeYouTomorrow, both on their personal profiles and in the group. The messages may be in the form of photos, artworks, quotes, songs/lyrics, video, or anything that reflects their expression of hope.

“Many people with mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder have to hide their illnesses even from their own family members due to the stigma attached to the ailment and the fear that society will not understand them,” lamented Yoly Crisanto, senior vice president for Globe Corporate Communications. 

She continued, “Globe wants to turn the tide by making a significant contribution of raising awareness about mental health and providing support to those suffering from it. Through Hope Bank, we want to rally their family and friends into becoming a community support group to make sufferers realize that they are not alone, that there are people who are willing to become a shoulder they can lean on.”

Hope Bank is the latest effort of Globe to offer a platform for people with mental health illness seeking help and support. In 2012, the telco provided the necessary technology for the creation of the 24/7 suicide prevention hotline HOPELINE 2919 which has received thousands of calls related to depression, suicidal thoughts, and relationship problems, among others.

For Hope Bank, Globe partnered with KonsultaMD, a health hotline service manned by licensed Filipino doctors who provide medical assessment and information including basic healthcare and permissible medication over the phone.

KonsultaMD doctors are all certified mental health first aiders, thus, they can receive calls from anyone who may be experiencing signs and symptoms of possible depression, anxiety, and burnout, among others.

“Our doctors can guide our callers through what they are feeling. For instance, we had a 19-year-old caller who wanted to know if he has signs of depression because he couldn’t concentrate in class, has difficulties sleeping, and is always spacing out. He has family problems but can’t talk to anyone to protect his family from shame. Through counseling and advice, he is better now.  He just wanted someone to listen and give him advice,” said Gia Sison, chief medical officer of KonsultaMD.

Another case, she said, is of a 73-year-old grandmother who had mild stroke and cataract who constantly calls the hotline when she has no one to talk to. 

“She was very vocal in saying that she is grateful to have someone to give her encouraging words when she feels down and lonely.” 

Online community offers mental health support
The National Statistics Office said the Philippines has the highest number of depressed people in Southeast Asia.
Aside from providing advice, KonsultaMD also refers callers who may need advanced intervention to the appropriate medical practitioners. 

Topics: mental illness , emotional breakdown , National Statistics Office , Selena Gomez , KonsultaMD , Hope Bank , Globe
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