It started with one of my friend’s classmates. Then to the girl in the block next to mine. And finally, despair consumed a fellow student journalist I knew personally.
The cases of suicide were getting closer and closer to me. Death caused by depression and anxiety was quick on its feet, and I barely outran it. Staying alive and surviving 2020 is one great miracle in and out of itself.
The consequences of mental health disorders have made it the third most common cause of death in the Philippines. Moreover, for every 100,000 Filipinos, there are only 2-3 mental health practitioners.
Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic caused frequent reports of anxiety and depression symptoms in individuals. In the Philippines, there is a notable increase of Filipinos suffering from different kinds of neurological and substance use disorders.
Shame and fear of being disowned have made Filipinos hesitant about reaching out and opening up about their mental struggles. Thoughts of despair and negativity are often met with toxic positivity. Friends and family show a harmful kind of tough love to a person at the brink of breaking.
Many Filipinos still believe that mental health only revolves around psychiatric disorders that need confinement in hospitals. Despite the active promotion of mental health awareness, stigma on the topic continues to persist.
The demand for better mental health support hastily increased over the past year. The Philippine government should put their effort and focus on improving mental health facilities and organizations.
There is not enough action done to help individuals who suffer mental health illnesses. Furthermore, a session with a professional is expensive and can cost up to 4,500 pesos. Most Filipino families see therapy focused on mental health as a privilege than a need.
There have been actions done to promote mental health. But infographics and a hotline won’t alleviate the mental issues Filipinos face in the long run. What we need are affordable and accessible services that mitigate the financial difficulties majority of the citizens endure.
However, each of us can contribute to the solution. Joining self-help groups hosted by trained peers involve emotional support and sharing of experiences. Some webinars inspire how to support friends and family suffering from mental health issues. Online forums teach how to approach and receive a person needing help.
Our goal should be to take mental health and its effects more seriously. Mental health care is a right that needs availability for all. Awareness is not enough, and action is what we need to ignite change.