Gov't mental health hotline receives more calls as COVID-19 pandemic rages in Philippines

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 07 2021 09:08 PM

Devotees offer prayers as they attend the Ash Wednesday Mass to mark the beginning of Lent at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Parañaque on February 17, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said the number of calls to the government's hotline for mental health assistance continues to increase this year as parts of the Philippines remain under lockdown a year since the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April alone, the hotline received 1,805 calls, which is 200 calls higher than the 1,604 calls recorded in March, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.

"Around 31 percent [of calls in April] are about anxiety and depressive symptoms, and 22 percent referrals to psychiatrists and psychologists," she said.

"Ibig sabihin, may mga pag-aalinlangan ang ating mga kababayan. This may be linked to the number of cases noong nakaraang buwan," she said.

In April, the Philippines recorded 1 million COVID-19 patients since the virus from Wuhan, China was first detected in the country in 2020.

The government also placed Metro Manila and nearby provinces under a lockdown in March after a surge of fresh COVID-19 cases.

Psychologist Randy Dellosa earlier said Filipinos have grown "sick and tired of trying to consider as a 'new normal' what in reality is an obvious 'abnormal.'"

Simply put, pandemic fatigue is the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion of having to endure the whole experience of the coronavirus pandemic," Dellosa told ABS-CBN News. 

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) earlier said that it would start the second phase of a national survey on the effects of COVID-19 on Filipinos' mental health and well-being this month.

The government would spend P39.8 million to collect data from 3,480 households and 7,328 individuals from May until June 2021 in 8 regions in the country, the PSA said in a statement.

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