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PHL one of the least happy countries in Asia, global study shows

October 10, 2012 7:06pm
It's more fun in the Philippines? A recent global study suggests otherwise, at least for people who have to live there.
 
The country has a reputation as a happy place with friendly people, but the 2012 World Happiness Report ranks the country among the least happy, or 103rd out of 155 surveyed countries worldwide. The report was published by Columbia University's Earth Institute.

The rankings were based on a "life evaluation score," which takes into account a range of factors, including good health, access to education, political freedom, quality of relationships, and trusting communities.

The top ten happiest nations, according to the study, were mostly in Northern Europe, a region with bitterly cold winters but apparently a high level of contentment, with Denmark number one, followed by Finland, Netherlands, and Norway. Canada is fifth. The United States is ranked 11th.

The happiness index refutes the common perception of an automatic correlation between contentment and level of income, asserting that is only one among a range of factors that determine a nation's cumulative happiness. It does say that a high degree of happiness cannot be attained without minimum standards of material comfort.

The first-ever World Happiness Report issued this year follows up on suggestions from Bhutan to formulate a "Gross National Happiness" index as a measure of national progress, rather than the economy-centered Gross National Product, or GNP.

Depression
 
The Philippines' surprisingly low ranking in the happiness index seems consistent with findings that the country also has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia.
 
DOH Assistant Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said in a press briefing in Iloilo that, according to a Philippine study, only one-third of depressed people in the country seek professional help.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines depression as a "common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration." It could be recurrent, and lead to "substantial impairments in an individual's ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities." At worst, depression could lead to suicide.
 
Ubial also said that the government needs to develop campaigns to increase awareness of suicidal behaviors in the community.
 
"The families and friends of people suffering from depression are equally important and they need to know and understand the illness to enable them to respond and provide constructive support to their love ones during the difficult times," she said.
 
National Center for Mental Health psychiatrist Dr. Venus Serra Arain said a study on suicides in the Philippines showed that suicides were mostly “in risk areas like the National Capital Region, Cavite and Rizal."
 
WHO said in a statement that depression can be worsened by "circumstances such as economic pressures, unemployment, disasters, and conflict can also increase the risk of the disorder."
 
World Mental Health Day
 
In a press statement, WHO marked Oct. 10 as the World Mental Health Day. This year is the 20th anniversary of this celebration.
 
 
For this year, the organization called for an end to the "stigmatization of depression and other mental disorders and for better access to treatment for all people who need it."
 
According to WHO, more than 350 million people suffer from depression all over the globe.
 
Effective treatments include psychosocial treatment or therapy and medication, the WHO said.
 
"The active involvement of depressed people and those who are close to them in addressing depression is key. The first step is to recognize the depression and reach out for support. The earlier the treatment begins, the more effective it is," WHO added.
 
Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse said in a statement, “We have some highly effective treatments for depression. Unfortunately, fewer than half of the people who have depression receive the care they need. In fact in many countries this is less than 10%."  — TJD/HS, GMA News
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