“Yung depression gawa-gawa lang ng mga tao yan. Gawa nila sa sarili nila,” said comedian and TV personality Joey De Leon on the noontime entertainment show, Eat Bulaga.
While De Leon at the time meant for it as a joke, netizens did not take it lightly.
After the controversial statement of the host towards depression, numerous netizens quickly reacted and criticized the host through social media, which prompted De Leon too, later on, apologize for his insensitive remarks.
Perhaps, this portrays the insufficiency and incompleteness of some Filipinos’ knowledge towards mental health, mainly because of their minimal knowledge about mental health and the lack of importance they accord to the condition.
Though it is undeniably true that social media somehow paved the way on opening this sensitive matter to the public. Many Filipinos seemed to disregard the seriousness of the issue and tend to avoid discussing it in their community.
Albeit there are several seminars and forums that are held by the government and private institutions, it is still not enough to educate most of the population on deeply understanding depression.
There is a wide range of mental health problems like anxiety, schizophrenia, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression which are commonly known to diagnose many Filipinos. This condition makes them unproductive and inefficient towards work and their relationship with other people.
However, many people still lack how to properly cater these disorders.
According to latest numbers of the World Health Organization (WHO), over 300 million people are known to be suffering from depression worldwide. While here in the Philippines, over six million Filipinos live with anxiety and depressive disorders.
There are also 2,558 recorded suicides in the country in 2012, where most were males diagnosed with mental health disorders.n The increasing rates of people diagnosed with mental health conditions urged some local support groups to make a move.
Here in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) together with Natasha Goulbourn Foundation and WHO launched ‘Hopeline’, a 24/7 suicide depression hotline.
Although this campaign may seem to help many patients, it wasn’t able to cater some of the callers’ bespoke needs. Given the fact that some of the mental health facilities recommended by the operator were not always accessible.
In 2017, the Senate of the Philippines approved Philippine Mental Health Bill (Senate Bill No. 1345), which efficiently makes mental health services such as psychosocial, neurologic and psychiatric services available for common people in both urban and rural areas. It only awaits the approval from the House of Representatives and President Duterte’s signature.
But even with all these campaigns and advanced treatments, many Filipinos still lack the knowledge on how to treat and understand this invisible disease.
Rehabilitation and psychiatric therapies aren't cheap, resulting in some people to keep the disease to themselves rather than seeking professional help.
According to the University of Michigan’s University health service, here are the 10 things that would improve someone’s mental health:
1. Value yourself –
Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons.
2. Take care of your body:
Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health.
3. Surround yourself with good people:
People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network.
4. Give yourself:
Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You'll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it's a great way to meet new people.
5. Learn how to deal with stress:
Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer.
6. Quiet your mind:
Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life.
7. Set realistic goals:
Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals.
8. Break up the monotony:
Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule.
9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs:
Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to "self-medicate" but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems.
10. Get help when you need it:
Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.
Aside from therapies, rehabilitation and other medical treatment, a simple conversation and understanding from the society towards people who have mental health issues could contribute greatly to break this stigma.
But still, spreading awareness is not enough. It is the time that we, more than anyone else, fight the living demons within ourselves. We are the one responsible for keeping and tracking our mental stability healthy, and the people around us will only serve as our support system during this battle.
Though the government must still exert much effort on feeding the society the information and the services they need in order to win the fight against mental illnesses. This is our chance to help people with their emotional necessities and make the public comfortable discussing the sensitive matter.
This clearly reveals how we must be open and aware of talking about these problems and why we should not take it lightly. It is a serious problem faced by Filipinos and an issue that must be given much importance.
This is a fight not only for people who are diagnosed with such diseases but also to people who will help them get through it.