Salamat Dok: How to prevent mental health issues

By Stefano Gelano, Salamat Dok contributor

Posted at Mar 30 2014 03:55 PM | Updated as of Mar 31 2014 12:05 AM

Mental health issues can be avoided at an early stage if every parent can recognize the role of maintaining harmonious relationships in the family.

This was the message Philippine psychiatrists conveyed during the mid-year convention of Philippine Psychiatric Association, Inc. (PAP) held at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel.

According to psychiatrists, parents and primary caregivers have a key role in raising children. If children are raised and guided properly, given the right support and plenty of love and understanding, they receive the proper foundation to grow up and become well-adjusted individuals in the future.

Among the most serious stresses facing a child, domestic conflict between parents ranks high in terms of risk.

Parents in conflict are so caught up in their hurt and angry feelings toward each other that they are not aware of how their attitude, thoughts and feelings are transmitted to their children. Children are frightened when they see their parents yell scream and threaten each other.

As an added stress factor, the children worry about the well-being and safety of both of their parents and do not feel secure as long as the conflict remains. As a result they suffer from a host of symptoms, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, sleep difficulties and insecurity.

However, should the parents decide to separate – resulting in a broken home, so to speak – then there is the likelihood that the child’s development can suffer, and worse, the situation can lead to mental disorders.

Among these are anxiety disorders, mood or personality problems and even depression. Children with clinical depression is particularly risky because it can lead to suicidal tendencies later in life.

According to Dr. Bernadette Manalo-Arcena, active consultant at St. Luke’s Medical Center and spokesperson of the PAP, “Nowadays, it’s important to revive family bonding. The family is the basic unit of society; if the family is intact, whole and functioning properly, incidents of mental illnesses and other psychiatric disorders can be lessened.”

Dr. Arcena added: “For children, having a role model – whether a parent or primary caregiver -- is important. If a child has problems in his or her upbringing, or lives in a broken home, metal development will be slow. When conflicts at home are not resolved, the child is at a disadvantage. The symptoms may not manifest physically, but emotionally.” – Multimedia Producer: Yam dela Cruz

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