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Joey de Leon apologizes for insensitive remark on depression

Joey de Leon admitted he was wrong for dismissing depression as a make believe illness. PR Photo

MANIlLA, Philippines—Comedian Joey De Leon has apologized after drawing flak for his dismissal of depression as a made-up illness. He said his family explained the gravity of his remarks on the mental illness that has claimed thousands of lives.

“Nagkamali po ako. Pinagalitan ako ng misis ko. Pinaliwanang nya at ng mga anak namin (I was wrong. My wife berated me. She and my children explained the issue to me),” De Leon on noontime variety show Eat Bulaga on Friday.

De Leon said that he was ashamed of his “insensitive” and “ignorant” remarks . “Ako’y humihingi ng paumanhin sa mga napaitan sa mga nabanggit ko, at humihingi ng inyong pang-unawa (I apologize to those who were offended by my words and I seek your understanding),” he added.

'Made-up illness'

De Leon made the comment when a contestant in “Juan for All, All for Juan segment” named Maria Cristina said her mother is suffering from depression.

READ: Joey de Leon slammed for depression remark; Maine praised for taking a stand

But De Leon dismissed her Maria Cristina’s concern about her mother’s illness. “‘Yung depression gawa-gawa lang ng mga tao ‘yan. Gawa nila sa sarili nila (Depression is just made up by people. They do it to themselves),” said TV host.

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This prompted Maine Mendoza, his co-host, to argue that depression should be taken seriously.

But De Leon continued to rib Mendoza saying that depression is just an illness of the rich, and a poor person who is depressed is someone who just lost hope. “Ganun ‘yun eh, (That’s the way he is)” he quipped.

He even said that people should not support people with depression.

'Silver lining'

De Leon said that he called Mendoza on Thursday night to apologize.

Mendoza, of the popular AlDub love team, meanwhile drew praises for standing up to de Leon and for telling people to support people who are suffering from depression.

Addressing Eat Bulaga’s audience on Friday, de Leon said that if there is a silver lining on his mistake, it was that it opened many doors to discuss depression.

Youth for Mental Health Coalition, a group of mental health advocates, issued a statement on Friday morning saying that it would welcome a public acknowledge of de Leon’s mistake but de Leon’s best form of apology” is a “changed mindset on mental illness.”

Y4MH extended an invitation to de Leon for an educational discussion on mental health issues.

READ: Joey de Leon told: Nothing comical about suffering, suicide rates

De Leon is a host of the longest running noontime show in the country. Eat Bulaga first aired in 1979.

The World Health Organization said that depression is a common mental disorder that affects more than 300 million people worldwide. In the Philippines, there were 2,558 reported cases of suicide in 2012. Of that number, 550 were females while 2,009 were males.

The Department of Health estimates that one in five Filipino adults has some form of mental illness, with schizophrenia, depression and anxiety topping the incidences of disorder.

The DOH, WHO and Natasha Goulbourn Foundation has launched HOPELINE in 2016. People with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts who need anonymous support may call (02) 804-4637; 0917-5584673; and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers.

A Senate bill seeking to integrate mental health services and programs in the public health system has been approved on third and final reading. Counterpart bills are still pending at the House of Representatives.

READ: Depression: some SAD facts

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