De Lima: Gov’t must tap relevant institutions, groups to address pandemic-related mental health issues; stop stigmatization


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Photo Credit: Philippine Star | Michael Varcas

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged the government to tap relevant institutions and private groups to address the emotional stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental-health issues people are experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, maintained that attending to the mental health needs of the public should be part of the present and future administration’s pandemic response.

“We are all facing an invisible enemy that ruthlessly attacks every aspect of human’s health. COVID-19 virus causes turmoil of emotions and storms of anxiety which are greatly affecting people’s mental health, especially now that nothing is certain and we’re all unsure when to finally see the end to this pandemic,” she said.

“The government should reach out to institutions and mental health professionals to make counselling and psychosocial services accessible to all citizens to ensure that people’s mental health issues are urgently addressed,” she added.

World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe earlier said that “the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a silent pandemic of mental stress and psychosocial issues in addition to disrupting the limited available resources for mental, neurological, and substance use disorder in the country.”

The Department of Health (DOH) reportedly estimates that at least 3.6 million Filipinos are facing mental health issues during the pandemic, including depression, substance use disorders, and mood disorders.

The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that the government should approach mental wellness with firm and full resolve because COVID-19 can adversely impact people’s wellbeing.

Hindi biro ang epekto ng pandemyang ito sa bawat isa sa atin. Matindi na ang pag-aalala na baka mahawa, paano pa kaya kung magpositibo na mismo sa sakit? May takot at pangamba sa kaligtasan, para sa pamilya, sa trabaho, at halo-halo pang agam-agam na nakakaapekto sa pasyente at sa kanyang mga mahal sa buhay,” De Lima said.

“The government must promote, protect and care for people’s mental health, because mental health issues, if left unaddressed, could also be lethal,” she added.

De Lima, who principally sponsored the Magna Carta of the Poor Act, explained that she did so not only to address the basic needs of the poor, but also to address the mental health issues critically affecting them and the entire nation.

“With this law, the government should hire more mental health professionals or tap relevant institutions, while raising awareness and removing the stigma of seeking help for psychological and emotional problems,” she said. (30)

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