The COVID-19 epidemic has contributed to an increase in mental health requirements, which are generally unmet. During the pandemic, the Department of Health estimates that at least 3.6 million Filipinos are dealing with mental health concerns, including as depression, drug use disorders like alcoholism, and mood disorders like bipolar disorder. COVID-19 infection has been shown to have a direct effect on a person’s mental health. One out of every three COVID-19 patients in the Philippines was diagnosed with a mental health disorder within six months of testing positive for COVID-19, according to a new DOH research. Lockdowns imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the virus – and the resulting social isolation – have aggravated underlying mental health issues.
Battling mental health amidst pandemic
People reported feeling terrified, anxious, and agitated as SARS-COV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—spread around the globe, all of which WHO explained were natural responses to perceived or genuine risks, especially in times of uncertainty.
The Psychosocial Services of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD PsycServ) indicated that the range of emotions expressed and experienced by many people throughout the epidemic is normal.
Factors such as quarantine, physical separation, poor or negative news, lack of assurance, health hazards, and a shortage of supplies or basic requirements during the pandemic, according to UPD PsycServ, can cause people to experience a wide range of emotions.
The epidemic has sparked mental health issues and exacerbated existing ones in many people, in addition to usual responses to dangers.
According to WHO, “many people may be experiencing increasing levels of alcohol and drug usage, insomnia, and anxiety.”
According to the WHO, COVID-19 has raised demand for mental health services around the world.
According to the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH), at least 3.6 million Filipinos suffer from one or more mental, neurological, or substance misuse disorders in the early part of 2020, according to data from the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health.
According to the National Mental Health Program (NMHP), at least 1,145,871 people in the country suffer from depression, 520,614 from bipolar illness, and 213, 422 with schizophrenia.
COVID-19 has a negative impact on many people’s mental health, according to data from multiple additional research.
The Department of Health reported last year that during the epidemic, the number of contacts to the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) hotlines about mental health issues, including suicide, increased dramatically.
The NCMH provided support to 3,006 people who called its hotlines in the first quarter of 2021. During the same time period, there were 867 suicide-related calls.
In the best of times, strong mental health is vital to the functioning of society, according to the UN policy brief on COVID-19 and the need for action on mental health. Both enhancing service delivery capabilities and assuring wider access, according to Duque, necessitate significant investments in infrastructure, labor, and resources.
While the mandates provided by the Mental Health Act and the Universal Health Care Law help give the government adequate leverage to ensure that mental health services are prioritized, the Health Secretary added that extra support is urgently needed.
“Mental health is a human right, it’s time that mental health be made available for all. Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage and is urgently required as the world grapples with the current health emergency,” said Duque. “We need to make mental health a reality for all – for everyone, everywhere,” he stressed.
As part of a collaborative effort between the government, private sector, civil society, and various other stakeholders and partners, various activities to promote more awareness and understanding of mental health, such as webinars and daily mental cleanse challenges, are being held across the Philippines for this year’s National Mental Health Week. In addition, the WHO will create its Quality Rights online portal, which will provide comprehensive information on the rights of people with mental health concerns so that the general public can be more aware.
Reference: Chritina Elousa Baclig (January 24, 2022) https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1544354/mental-health-in-a-time-of-pandemic-the-invisible-suffering
Department of Health Press Release (October 10, 2020) https://doh.gov.ph/press-release/YOUR-MIND-MATTERS-DOH-CALLS-FOR-UNIFIED-RESPONSE-TO-MENTAL-HEALTH