May 2018: Mental Health Month

May is the Mental Health Month of 2018 with the theme of Fitness #4Mind4Body. The past year and months have seen intensified and viral campaigns to promote mental health awareness. People are now a bit sensitive about the issue of depression and other psychological disorders.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 800,000 people die from suicide each year. Death by suicide ranks high in the 15-29 years old age group, with 78% of suicide cases occurring in middle- and low-income countries like the Philippines.

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In the Philippines, the Mental Health Act of 2017 is on the roll. Also known as the Mental Health Bill (House Bill 5347, Senate Bill 2910), it proposes a mental health policy that aims to enhance integrated mental health services, the promotion of mental health services, protection of people who use said services, and the establishment of a Philippine mental health council.

Mental Health is not just about depression. Although it has become highlighted due to the depression-related suicides by famous personalities like Robbin Williams, depression is not only the pressing mental health issue we need to address.

Victims of calamities and other natural disasters have traumatic experiences that must be dealt with. In the light of the recent Kuwait diplomatic debacle, returning OFWs and other migrant workers also have psycho-social issues that needs to be addressed especially if they suffered abuse. Abused women and children will also benefit from a mental health law. Lastly, the victims of war, as in Marawi, especially needs time and a place where they could rebuild themselves.

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Most families do not talk about depression largely due to lack of information. In part, our body’s chemicals have a part to play, but the social, economic, and political causes of depression and the experience of depression itself has been largely left undiscussed inside the house.

If you suspect that someone you know has depression and might be suicidal, the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation has some resources that addresses questions like What is Depression? What Causes Depression? The Signs and Symptoms of Depression, and Treating Depression.

The Department of Health has also its Hopeline Project, a phone-based counseling service for any individual suffering from crisis and depression. Hopeline is available 24/7, reachable via landline at (02) 804-HOPE (4673); by mobile phone at 0917-558-HOPE (4673) or by dialing 2919 for Globe or TM subscribers.

Dom Balmes

Dom writes for pay by day and writes for passion by night. He is a Japan major at the University of the Philippines. He’s fond of ramen and anime but not of nice people.

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