MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said a quarter of Filipinos are having "moderate to severe" anxiety issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic and working from home.
This according to a 2020 study from the University of the Philippines involving 1,879 respondents, which showed that a sixth of respondents were also reported to have moderate to severe depression, said Dr. Agnes Joy Casiño, psychiatrist and technical consultant of the DOH Mental Health Division.
"Mayroong ibang nahihirapan if they are wearing different hats... Nahihirapan kapag hindi nila name-maintain 'yung work-life balance," she said.
(Some are having a hard time if they are wearing different hats... They are having a hard time when they cannot maintain work-life balance.)
For some Filipinos, being at home for 24 hours has blurred the line between personal and professional functions, she said.
"'Yung commute to work, it sets the tone na papunta ako ng trabaho (that I am going to work)... Psychologically, you are prepared that you are going to work," Casiño said.
"Because of work from home, nawala 'yun. Hindi ka psychologically prepared," she said.
(That was gone because of work from home. You are not psychologically prepared.)
Other people's mental health issues have either worsened or came to light as the COVID-19 pandemic stripped them of coping mechanisms, the psychiatrist said.
"Dati (Before) they can cope. They can go to the movies. They can go on vacation... Nawala 'yung other means nila of coping kaya lumalabas talaga 'yung mga issues," she said.
(Their other means of coping are gone that's why issues are surfacing.)
The DOH has yet to release more details about the socioeconomic profiles of Filipinos battling mental health difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Casiño noted that women are usually more open to seeking professional help or counseling.
"'Yung theory is that women kasi are more in tune sa feelings and are open to talking about it," she said.
(The theory is that women are more in tune with their feelings and are more open to talking about it.)
"Men don't tend to reach out until nandoon na sila sa point na hindi na nila kinakaya," she said.
(Men don't tend to reach out until they reach the point that they can no longer take it.)
Casiño said workers should not hesitate to inform their employers about their mental health concerns as the Department of Labor and Employment as well as the Civil Service Commission issued an earlier policy directing establishments to provide mental wellness programs and assistance for their employees.
"It is not a reflection that you are not doing your job," she said.
"We are not just grieiving those who died from COVID-19. Some are grieving because we lost our dreams, we lost our ambitions... We lost the previous life that we led," she said.
"This is a universal grieving on a large scale."
The DOH consultant advised those experiencing mental health issues to talk about their problems or vent to family and friends, exercise to boost happy hormones, and show kindness during these difficult times.
"We have to remember to be kind, to be kind to ourselves and to be kind to others."