De Lima seeks inquiry on rise of mental health incidents during pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima is seeking a Senate inquiry into the reported rise in mental health incidents amid the coronavirus pandemic.
De Lima pushed for the investigation through Senate Resolution No. 439, which also urged the chamber to review the implementation of Republic Act No. 11036, or the Mental Health Act, to craft and integrate a comprehensive mental health strategy in relation to the government’s response to the crisis.
“Issues on mental health are far deeper than we think and imagine, and reek more intensely in our society as everyone is mandated to be confined at home. Everyone has all the time to be alone with their minds during a pandemic when nothing is certain, and the future is still a blur,” De Lima said in a statement on Thursday.
“COVID-19 affected millions of people worldwide. It is one big invisible enemy that malevolently attacks every aspect of our health. It causes turmoil of emotions and storms of anxiety which is greatly affecting our mental health,” she added.
De Lima cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO) which showed that over 100 million people “suffer from mental disorders in the Western Pacific region, including the Philippines, with depressive disorders accounting for 5.73% of mental disorders in the region.”
The senator, further citing Dr. Angelo Jesus Arias of the Philippine Psychiatric Association, also noted that the number and distribution of mental health workers in the country remains a problem during the pandemic despite the enactment of the Mental Health Law.
De Lima pointed out that the Philippines only has one psychiatrist for every 250,000 population which she said is “very far” from the ideal ratio of one psychiatrist to 50,000 population.
It was also disclosed in a Senate hearing last May that the National Center for Mental Health’s (NCMH) 24/7 helpline has been “bombarded” with calls since the start of government-imposed lockdowns.
“Everyone right now, from our healthcare frontliners, members of the labor sector, up to those who are staying at home, are all experiencing different levels of grief, stress, confusion and anxiety and it is ultimately our duty to ensure that their mental health are not compromised during a pandemic,” De Lima said.
“Our much vaunted resilience is a direct result of our capacity to properly process the challenges that meet our country. Thus, there is a need to ensure that the mental health of our country is not being ignored,” she added.
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