17 million Filipinos suffer from depression â lawmaker
Rep. Alfred delos Santos of party-list Ang Probinsiyano a mental health wellness advocate said this was based on DOH figures shown during committee hearings, which claimed these are persons “experiencing major depressive order.”
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17 million Filipinos suffer from depression – lawmaker

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker revealed that data provided by the Department of Health (DOH) to the House of Representatives have shown that there are about 17 million Filipinos suffering from depression, or approximately one-sixth of the 110 million Filipino population.

Rep. Alfred delos Santos of party-list Ang Probinsiyano – a mental health wellness advocate – said this was based on DOH figures shown during committee hearings, which claimed these are persons “experiencing major depressive order.”

“Mental health is not a joke,” he warned, noting that suicide rates have reportedly surged among males and females, even youngsters. He authored House Bill 6253, or the Mental Wellness Leave Act, granting five more days of leave for private employees.

He commended the House committee on labor and employment, headed by Rep. Eric Pineda of party-list 1Pacman, for initiating a hearing on the issue last week. “Thankfully, the reception of the committee towards the bill has been positive.”

The measure provides for five more days of leave, on top of the current mandatory vacation and sick leaves for employees in the private sector. The bill also requires employers to carry out programs promoting workers’ mental health.

HB 6253 also seeks to expand the existing Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036) that was enacted in July 2018 where rights have already been laid out. This bill seeks to include a prevention program to address the rising depressive disorders and suicide rates.

“Mental sickness is not the same as any physical illness. A person may look and act normal, but may have serious mental concerns deep inside. Mental health should never be taken lightly only because there are no physical manifestations of the illness,” delos Santos said.

The Bicolano congressman said his bill is supported by the Employees Compensation Commission through its executive director Stella Zipangan-Banawis, who has acknowledged that the mental wellness measure is “essential and compensable.”

“During this difficult time of living in a pandemic, with stress running high and we are constantly exposed to negative news – looking after your mental health is so important to everyone’s overall well-being,” delos Santos stressed.

“Depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies should be addressed early on and we should not wait until it is too late,” he added. “It is hoped that through this legislation, we can contribute in raising better mental health awareness.”

“We understand the sentiments of the business owners, especially the MSMEs, on costs and the like. This is why we are very much open to listen to our employers to enable us to reach a fair outcome for both the employers and employees,” delos Santos said.

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