Mental health (MH) illnesses do not always come in the form of slashed wrists and dark clouds. Most cases are wrapped in sunshine and rainbows like extroversion, hard work and a well-presented front. Whichever route you are currently on, you are valid and it’s okay to ask for help.
In the span of the months-long pandemic, the Philippines alone had a huge spike in mental health-related concerns recorded at 876 monthly calls — more than double the average 400 monthly calls before the crisis.
Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA) president Dr. Amadeo Alinea Jr. told Daily Tribune the reason behind this shocking slope. “The thing that we are facing right now is a fight that we cannot see,” he said.
Adding salt to the wound, MH services in the world were also drastically disrupted by the pandemic. In the latest data obtained by the World Health Organization (WHO), in 130 countries, an average of 70-percent dishevelment happened in MH facilities as more people asked for help.
Apart from grappling to let scattered thoughts out, MH cases are often left undiagnosed due discrimination, insufficient facilities and costly medicine.
Some would even say that the struggling individuals are only “making things complicated” and “lack prayers.” Take note that these statements may be seen as a product of concern, but these are triggers that only make them bottle up whatever they feel instead of asking for help.
Communal MH response
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) and PPA used these vexing concerns to mobilize Medicine Access Programs to provide uninterrupted medication especially amid quarantine.
Mental health programs in local, provincial and regional hospitals were also kickstarted by the collaboration so therapies and medicine can become more accessible.
J&J, NCMH and PPA also upped their gatekeeping systems for the execution of the Mental Health Law in the Philippines. Alongside communities all over the country, this legislation is being fueled so more Filipinos can have free and unlimited access to MH services by 2023.
How to ask for help
Seeing that organizations, agencies and advocates are together in opening more doors to offer help, these are the things you can do to ask for immediate help.
You may use the NCMH Hotlines 09178998727/989-8727, Philippine Mental Health Association 09175652036 or Dial-a-Friend Number 525-1743. You can also check out www.silakbo.ph/help/ to get an updated list of email addresses and numbers to contact in times you badly need help.
And for those who have loved ones that need help, refrain from telling them statements like, “Do not be sad,” because mental health illnesses cannot be healed in one snap. Healing is a long and non-linear process that requires genuine support and understanding.
We remind you, again and again, you are valid. It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to ask for help.