MANILA - The United States' development agency and the Philippine health department on Friday said they are set to launch the country's first mental health application, to help Filipinos struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Health (DOH) said the application, called "Lusog-Isip," was soft-launched earlier in the day.
The application is not yet available in the Google and Apple stores as of this story's posting but it would be made available soon, the agencies said.
"The app screens individuals to get a better sense of their overall well-being and how they usually cope with stress before recommending ways they can help themselves through workbooks, exercises, audio guides, journaling, mood tracking, or even just simple self-care reminders," the statement read.
Lusog-Isip will also give a list of mental health and psychosocial support service online or nearby.
"USAID is committed to supporting the promotion of this mobile app in schools, workplaces, and communities," the US agency added.
The DOH, on the other hand, described the application as a "timely innovation."
Frances Prescilla Cuevas, DOH's chief health program officer at its Mental Health Division, said it is high time that an app can assist Filipinos during the ongoing health crisis.
“As the Department of Health and our health workers strive towards coping and living with this pandemic, we must find ways to care for the mental well-being of our fellow Filipinos who continue to suffer because of this current circumstance,” Cuevas explained.
Many mental health and mindfulness applications on Google Play and Apple stores need monthly or yearly subscriptions for a person to fully use their features.
According to the DOH in May, at least 3.6 million Filipinos are battling mental health issues amid the pandemic.
About 1.14 million Filipinos have depression, 847,000 are battling alcohol-use disorders, while 520,000 others were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the agency noted.
Contracting COVID-19 also affects a person's mental health as a DOH study showed that 1 in every 3 COVID-19 patients was diagnosed with neuropsychiatric condition 6 months after being infected with the disease, said Frances Prescilla Cuevas, chief health program officer of the DOH's Disease Prevention and Control Bureau.
The DOH reminded the public not to hesitate to call the National Center for Mental Health hotline 1553 if they need to talk to a mental health professional.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to stay at home as governments imposed lockdowns to arrest the spread of the virus.