The health care ministry of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines stressed the importance of giving more attention to the mental health of people during the pandemic.
“Let us reach out to people who suffer depression and anxiety to assure them of our presence, and that we are there to accompany them,” said Camillian priest Dan Cancino, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Health Care of the bishops’ conference.
“Let us listen to them because mental health is about listening,” said the priest, adding that the number of people who experience depression and other mental health issues continues to grow during the pandemic.
The National Mental Health Program of the Department of Health estimated that about a million Filipinos are experiencing depressive disorder.
It is also estimated that about half a million people have bipolar disorder while about 200,000 are having schizophrenia.
The National Center for Mental Health recorded 1,375 suicide-related calls in 2021 alone, while the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that in 2020, at least 4,000 Filipinos died of suicide.
The Tokyo-based Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) last week said the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted psychological distress mostly on Filipino youth.
“Our findings … revealed that young adults age 18-25 are relatively more at risk of episodes of psychological distress,” said the think tank in a blog post.
It said that another 2021 study showed that “accumulating worries associated with missing traditional milestones and losing economic opportunities and vital relationships are leading young adults into mental distress amid the ongoing crisis.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the psychological and social well-being of many Filipinos,” the institute said.
“Stay-at-home orders have left many in isolation and experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety, largely over economic hardship and uncertainty,” said the researchers, citing reports from the World Health Organization’s Philippine office and the National Center for Mental Health.
It also noted that amid workplace closures, a large group of workers have either been furloughed or have faced reduced working hours with negative consequences on their income and finances.
“Women, especially mothers, have been taking on a greater domestic burden of housework and child care during the pandemic, while the elderly have long been restricted from going outside due to their vulnerability to the virus,” read the blog post.
It said that there is “robust evidence” of women having “higher odds of experiencing considerable mental health concerns.”
“Women, especially mothers, face a greater challenge of juggling paid work and domestic responsibilities,” said the researchers.