The Commission on Human Rights warned of a brewing mental health pandemic during the commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day, urging government to give mental health the attention it deserves as it devotes time and resources to the coronavirus pandemic currently gripping the country that is now among the most badly affected in the globe.
“As the government continues to prevent and treat the spread of COVID-19, a mental health pandemic is brewing,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said in a statement.
“This problem is compounded by an increasing number of companies shifting towards work from home arrangements and the online delivery of classes,” she added. “Certain individuals may feel overwhelmed unable to find balance or routine in their life.”
De Guia noted that the National Center for Mental Health has recorded an increase in suicide-related calls, from 33 monthly calls from the first quarter to 2020 to 66 in April, 80 in May, 112 in June and 115 in July.
She also cited a Social Weather Stations survey released in July where it showed 84 percent of Filipinos stressed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Probable reasons for the increase in suicide-related calls were fear of getting sick, economic uncertainty, and prolonged social isolation that could take a toll on mental health.
De Guia urged government to consider policies and social institutions to work closely with civil society to help bring greater awareness to the importance of mental health. She also called on the public “to go beyond offering words of consolation” in a bid to promote mental health.
The past few months have been extraordinary, and our government’s lackluster response to the pandemic has not been helpful for those already suffering from mental health issues or those vulnerable to such. Suicide prevention awareness and efforts have to be stepped up during these times, and it would be best for family members to be hyper-aware and sensitive of the each other’s mental health as we all have no other choice but to bear the many burdens caused by this pandemic.*