On mental health

Today, I want to talk about mental health, particularly depression.

Mental disorders carry such a stigma in the Philippine society. In a culture where everyone is full of optimistic sayings like kaya pa yan, it can be hard to believe that depression is a real illness. Some may say that the person is just overly emotional, dramatic, or seeking attention. That, coupled with the fact that we don’t have a good mental health act in place, makes it hard for sufferers to seek help. A lot of people do not understand mental illness; disdainful and dismissive attitudes, especially if coming from family and friends, can stop someone from getting the help they need. A depressed person needs a lot of support from their social network and if they cannot count on that, the chances for getting better are a lot slimmer.

Another factor that hinders sufferers from getting help is the financial cost. Therapy can cost anywhere between Php1000-5000 per session, and sessions usually need to be every two weeks. You may even be prescribed meds, which do not come cheap. (Abilify, I’m looking at you.)

That’s why I’m all for a comprehensive mental healthcare act in the Philippines. Psychiatric services should not only be for those well-off. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should have access to the help they need to be psychologically sound.

I truly believe that healthcare providers should include psychiatric care in their service offerings. A person’s well-being is not only physical, but mental as well. Just because the illness may not be apparent to others doesn’t make it any less real.


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