Cari amici, la pandemia ha colpito anche la salute mentale nel mio Paese. Lo conferma il numero sempre più crescente di chiamate al numero verde, voluto dal governo, per dare assistenza a quelle persone che lamentano sintomi di ansia e depressione. L’impatto del virus sulla psiche è stato pesante, amplificato dalle interruzioni nell’accesso ai servizi di salute mentale, l’isolamento, la quarantena. Il numero dei suicidi è persino raddoppiato in questa prima parte dell’anno rispetto al precedente. Una vera tragedia nella tragedia! E’ per questo che invoco lo spirito filippino del “bayanihan” o cooperazione comunitaria, perchè il singolo in difficoltà non sia lasciato solo dalla comunità.

At least 3.6 million Filipinos are battling mental health issues as the Philippines continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

About 1.14 million Filipinos have depression, 847,000 are battling alcohol-use disorders, while 520,000 others were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, said Frances Prescilla Cuevas, chief health program officer of the DOH’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau. This is an understatement. This is a figure underreported because it only tackles a few of the conditions, as she said. It only means that we will find more cases if we have more data.

The quality of living during the pandemic has a great impact on the psychological issues that affect a person’s mental state, as Cuevas said. We are in the same storm, but we are not on the same boat, as she included. Others, are living well but others are really struggling with pandemic.

Contracting COVID-19 also affects a person’s mental health as a DOH study showed that 1 in every 3 COVID-19 patients was diagnosed with neuropsychiatric condition 6 months after being infected with the disease, Cuevas said.

The coronavirus pandemic is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern, as she said. Psychological impact includes elevated rates of stress or anxiety. There are a lot of adult Filipinos are highly stressed, as she included.

The government has been providing cash aid and food packages to indigent families to ensure that Filipinos would not have to worry about survival during the pandemic, Cuevas said. That is one of the biggest services the government is doing to provide security.

Several crisis hotlines have also been launched to help those who have mental health issues, she said.

In April, the hotline received 1,805 calls, which is 200 calls higher than the 1,604 calls recorded in March, according to data from the DOH. Around 31 percent of calls in April are about anxiety and depressive symptoms, and 22 percent referrals to psychiatrists and psychologists, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on her interview.

Between January and February, the same mental health crisis hotline has registered a monthly average of 289 suicide-related calls, the DOH said.

The NCMH hotline can be reached through the following numbers:

▪ 1553 (Luzon-wide landline toll-free)

GLOBE / TM Subscribers
▪ 0917-899-8727
▪ 0966-351-4518

SMART / SUN / TNT Subscribers
▪ 0908-639-2672

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also said that they will conduct a separate survey on impact of COVID-19 to mental health.