MANILA -- An official of the Department of Health (DOH) urged the public to understand the condition of persons with mental health issues.
"Huwag po natin huhusgahan ang mga may mental health issues. Isipin po natin na parang kagaya lamang ito ng hypertension at diabetes kung mayroon tayong kakilala na may sintomas ng lumbay (Let us not judge those who have mental health issues. Let us think that it is like hypertension and diabetes when we see someone with symptoms of depression)," DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in a radio interview on Monday.
Domingo said that most Filipinos are "embarrassed or scared to talk about their mental health concerns" and awareness of mental health issues is not widespread.
"Mas mabuti po na ang mga taong ito ay may kausap, dahil katulad po ng ibang sakit, lahat po ng ito ay may solusyon at gamot (It is better that they have someone to talk to, because like other diseases, all these [mental health issues] have solutions and appropriate medications," he added.
Data from the DOH show that in the Philippines, 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorders, with suicide rates in 2.5 males and 1.7 females per 100,000.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four persons in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. The WHO reported that 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.
Anxiety disorder, depression, and psychotic illnesses are a few of the many signs identified with mental health issues, Domingo said.
"Those who don't have appetite, don't eat, can't sleep, have a lot of things in mind, always with fear, scared, sometimes becoming paranoid, thinking that people talk about them or gang up on them, and those who hear and see things other people don't hear and see like having hallucinations. They start from there and if we're unable to address them, they become big problems," he said.
While having phobias is common in most people, Domingo said that "having debilitating phobias could be a sign of mental health problems".
He added that severe homesickness and "feeling heartbroken" also lead to mental health issues and even suicide.
"Suicide is a big problem now worldwide, especially in young people aged 15 to 25 years old, due to depression or lack of hope. This is the second leading cause of death in the world, around 800,000 youths die of it," he said.
To help people with mental health problems, the Department of Health has launched a hotline where they can speak with counselors to get advice or referral to other professionals or hospitals nearest them.
"You can call at 0917-899-USAP OR 989-USAP. There are many callers, some are as young as 12 and 13 years old and there are also senior citizens who are prone to depression or are sick and weak who call. Very wide is the variety of our callers. Usually, there are many callers during night time," Domingo said.
The lines are open 24 hours every day. (PNA)