3.3 million Pinoys suffer from depression

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
3.3 million Pinoys suffer from depression
Citing a 2017 World Health Organization report, Rep. Rida Robes of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan said eight in every 100,000 Filipinos commit suicide. Of this figure, six are males, while two are females, aged 15 to 29 years old.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has one of the highest cases of depression in Southeast Asia, affecting more than three million Filipinos, a lawmaker in the House of Representatives said.

Rep. Rida Robes of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan revealed this in a privilege speech last Tuesday evening as she lamented the rising rates of suicide among the country’s youth.

She expressed alarm over depression becoming as prevalent as the common cold in the country, affecting around 3.3 million Filipinos.

“It is recognized by our own Department of Health (DOH) as a serious health condition,  and the weight of haplessness, hopelessness and helplessness—the three dreaded ‘H’ symptoms of depression—gravitate towards what now are the new high-risk group: the young population,” she said.

Citing a 2017 World Health Organization report, Robes said eight in every 100,000 Filipinos commit suicide. Of this figure, six are males, while two are females, aged 15 to 29 years old.

The same report showed that an average of 3,000 people worldwide take their own lives every day, or a suicide case every 40 seconds.

Robes said the study attributed the increase in suicide cases to social media, changing lifestyle and lack of family and community support, which led to a convergence of “risk factors” like social disconnection and weakening of “helpful factors” such as genuine relationships and healthy lifestyles.

“Many of them lack a sense of purpose in life and experience disconnectedness and deteriorating relationships brought about by social media and technology. At home, relationships or guidance may not be better either, when parents would lack quality time with their children due to their busy schedule or if when one or both of them work abroad,” the lawmaker lamented. School life is also a source of high level stress, she added.

Robes has asked colleagues in Congress to pass a law that would restore the study of values education as a stand-alone subject in basic and higher educational curricula. Legislation on responsible social media usage among young people should also be passed, she further stated.

Robes also vowed to move for the conduct of a congressional inquiry on the construction and loading of senior high school curriculum, and probe into the age-appropriateness of difficult subjects such as calculus, statistics and research, as well as the exercise of its oversight powers over the implementation of Republic Act 11036, also known as the Philippine Mental Health Law.

She likewise called on the DOH to step up the implementation of RA 11036, particularly the launching of strong and widely promoted anti-suicide helplines.

“The Department must also be prompted to implement community-based mental health programs with the same vigor and determination it shows in championing anti-AIDS, anti-dengue and anti-Japanese encephalitis campaigns,” she appealed.

The lawmaker also urged religious institutions, civil society organizations and private corporations to contribute their share in addressing these emergent problems through counseling, stress debriefing, establishment of helplines for young people.

Lastly, she suggested the relaxation of steep licensing requirements for guidance counselors, to allow public schools to hire the required number of guidance counselors to help students cope with mental health issues.

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