CHR on Mental Health Day: Offer words of consolation, encouragement daily
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged Filipinos to spend at least 40 seconds in a day to offer words of consolation and encouragement to people experiencing mental health issues.
CHR said this is in observance with the World Mental Health Day, which is celebrated every 1oth of October.
“The Commission in a bid to promote mental health awareness, thereby encourages all members of Philippine society to take 40 seconds, out of 86,400 seconds, in a day to offer each words of encouragement and consolation,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Thursday.
“Together we can unite for a change, it only takes 40 seconds to save a life,” she added.
The number “40 seconds” came from findings that nearly 800,000 people die yearly due to suicide — roughly one person every 40 seconds.
De Guia said that it should also be noted that people of all ages, regardless of educational background, sex, financial status, or religious beliefs, can be face mental health problems.
“Mental health problems not only affect adults, they also manifest even with younger individuals, with the 2015 World Health Organization Global-school based survey finding that ‘among 8,761 students from Grades 7–9, Year 4 in the Philippines, 11.6% among 13 to 17 year olds considered suicide 16.8% among 13 to 17 year olds attempted suicide,” she explained.
Last July 2018, President Rodrigo signed into law Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act, which will provide needs and protect the welfare and rights of mental health patients. The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law has been finalized by the Department of Health.
However, CHR noted that depression incidents are still gradually increasing.
“Despite actions by the government, however, reported cases of depression continues to rise,” De Guia said.
“It is clear: the causes of mental health problems are multi-faceted that includes socio-economic factors and society’s attitude towards individual’s with mental health problems. Tackling mental health issues requires not only efforts from the government but includes individual efforts to not only remove, but completely eliminate the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health,” she added.
A 2016 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that there are 5.2 deaths due to suicide per 100,000 persons in the Philippines, ranked 157 worldwide.
While these may be low numbers compared to Russia, the first-ranked country with 26.5 deaths per 100,000, research also revealed that suicide rates in the country increased by more than 20 times from 1992 to 2002.
In the Philippines, mental health awareness has encountered several challenges, from advocates facing ridicule in social media sites, to the lack of government budget for essential aspects of suicide prevention.
Just this June 2019, it was announced that Hopeline, a hotline for people who need help, will not get funding from the Department of Health. Hopeline though continued operation through donations.
“Often overlooked, nowhere in the world does mental health enjoy parity or the same levels of attention as physical health. It is then important to change this tide of mental health unawareness to awareness,” De Guia stressed.
“Recognizing deep rooted causes of mental illness, ending stigma and understanding that treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with mental disorders are complementary actions in reducing the burden of mental illness is the first step towards mental health awareness,” she added.
Those who need help may access the new NCMH crisis hotline numbers 0917899-USAP (8727) or 989-USAP, the DOH said. Hotlines are still operational daily: these are 804-4673, 09175584673 and 2919 (toll-free for Globe and TM subscribers). /je
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