Is the Philippines ready to address mental health?

Photo/illustration via rappler.com

By Sofia Tomacruz/rappler.com – “No one is spared” from the possibility of suffering from mental illness.

This is the clear message mental health experts are sending to the public. Mental illnesses can cut across all professions and ages, and affect even those who care for patients with mental health issues themselves.

The problem is one that carries a heavy burden as the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that by 2030, mental disorders will account for 13% of the total global burden of diseases.

“Everyone is on alert,” said psychiatrist Dr Dinah Nadera of the University of the Philippines Diliman Infirmary and president of non-governmental organization Foundation Awit in an interview with Rappler.

The risks apply to the Philippines as well. Experts told Rappler mental illnesses and suicide cases among the youth have increased in the last few years.

In 2004, over 4.5 million cases of depression were reported in the Philippines, according to the Department of Health (DOH). Suicide cases in the Philippines recorded by the WHO in 2012 also reported over 2,000 cases from 2000 to 2012. Majority of those who died by suicide were between 15 to 29 years old.

Fast forward to the present, the numbers are most likely much higher since many who suffer from depression often hesitate to seek help due to the stigma that surrounds mental disorders. The same can also be said for those who attempt suicide.

This begs the question: is the Philippines ready to seriously address mental health?

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