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DOH: Don't stigmatize people with mental health issues amid pandemic

Communities should not stigmatize but rather support people experiencing anxiety and other mental health issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday.

“Sa mga kamag-anak po, kaibigan, kapitbahay ng nakakaranas nito, huwag po natin sila i-stigmatize. Kausapin natin sila at mayroon po tayong hotlines na puede niyong tawagan,” Vergeire said in a DOH briefing.

Vergeire pointed to the National Center for Mental Health, Philippine Mental Health Association, among others, as possible avenues of assistance for those suffering from anxiety and depression.

“We recognize the fact that during this time of a pandemic, ang mga tao na nakakaranas ng anxiety, fear ay tumataas, coupled with those na nawalan ng trabaho…may desperation and hopelessness na nararamdaman ng mga tao. Even us, health professionals, we also have fear, anxiety,” Vergeire said.

“Hindi po porket tumawag po kayo sa hotline ay luko luko kayo o sira ang ulo. It is okay not to be okay. Mayroon po kayong maaaring kausapin for counselling o kahit makipagkwentuhan. Huwag po kayo magkaroon ng agam-agam kasi meron po kayong puede makausap,” Vergeire added.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said earlier that he was alarmed over rising number of suicides in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to the loss of jobs and livelihood, among other reasons.

Guevarra, citing a report from National Task Force Chief Carlito Galvez Jr., called on churches and spiritual leaders to provide counsel and guidance to their members and followers who were suffering mentally during the pandemic.

The Philippines recorded 189,601 COVID-19 cases so far. Of this number, 131,367 recovered while 2,998 died.

The number of active cases was 55,236. — DVM, GMA News