MANILA— The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday called for the Philippines’ “greater investment” in mental health as the country continues to face challenges brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said that the state of mental health in the country has been “deteriorating” even before the pandemic struck the country.
Investing in mental health, De Guia said, could lead to everyone’s access to support and services regardless of location and socio-economic situation.
She also emphasized that mental health should be included in the universal health coverage.
“The consequences of the pandemic on the mental health of the citizens, particularly the vulnerable sectors, necessitate that mental health become an integral part of the universal health coverage,” she said in a statement commemorating the National Mental Health week.
De Guia added that most Filipinos’ mental health have been impacted by COVID-19. Those with mental health conditions, she said, have become even more vulnerable because of the health crisis.
'COVID-19 pandemic impacts mental health'
The CHR said among those whose mental health have been affected because of the health crisis are residents who continue to reel with the strict quarantine restrictions implemented in certain areas of the country. Some are also medical frontliners, and workers who lost their jobs.
Even the youth’s mental health is affected, the commission said, especially children who have been grappling with distance learning and the lack of normal social interaction.
“Medical workers are facing unprecedented [challenges] in providing health care while facing risk and fearful of bringing the virus home. Many of those who lost their loved ones did not have the chance to say goodbye, which heightens their sorrow. Thousands have lost their jobs and are beset with uncertainty,” she said.
The commission said there has been a significant increase in the monthly hotline calls on depression reported by the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH)—from 80 before the lockdown to an average of 400.
The Department of Health in August said that calls seeking help for mental health have doubled since the start of the pandemic.
More than half of their monthly callers come from the National Capital Region, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, while more than 20% come from Region IV-A.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a "devastating impact" on mental health services globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.
WHO warned that mental health had been overlooked in the crisis, pointing to a survey conducted between June and August that revealed severe disruptions to services in 93 countries.
The following article also has information on other groups offering free mental health consultations online or via phone.
— With a report from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News