MANILA, Philippines – The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) has tasked counselors to man a hotline for cases of depression and other mental health problems in the country.
The agency on Thursday (May 2) launched the NCMH Crisis Hotline numbers, 0917-899-USAP and 989-USAP for Filipinos needing mental health crisis intervention and counseling services.
NCMH chief, Allan Troy Baquir said, “The hotline aims to reach out to those who do not have the immediate means to seek advice and serves as an avenue to offer hope and care for those who have mental health issues.”
Hotline counsellors have been assigned to attend to calls on depression, psychiatric emergencies, suicidal thoughts, grief and loss, relationship issues, sexual abuse, and domestic violence among other issues.
Those who are assessed with high risk will be immediately provided with intervention, Baquir said.
The World Health Organization reports that around 800,000 people die annually due to suicide. – Marje Pelayo
There is a touch of lightness in the air as sun rays peek through the trees. Each step has a sound which carries a sense of peacefulness. There is calm.
But suddenly, all the lights go out. Nothing remains, not even darkness.
Without any warning, a person can experience an episode of depression without any triggering factor. This is according to psychiatrist Ranier Umali.
Dr. Umali said a person with depression can continue feeling good for months. However, he reiterates that depression is an episodic sickness which patients should be reminded of.
“Minsan, two months na okay na feeling niya ano, biglang darating iyan. Kahit walang trigger iyan. Kapag biglang dumating iyan at hindi alam ng pasyente na iyan ay talagang episode, madedepress ulit iyon, (Sometimes, [a patient] will be okay for two months, but [depression] will suddenly come, even without a trigger. If it comes and the patient is unaware of the episode, he will revert back to being depressed),” he said.
Umali said suicide is the end result of the sickness but depression is not contagious.
“Di siya nakakahawa, because ang suicide is not a sickness it is not infectious. It is a manifestation of a disease process. That is the outcome, (It is not contagious, because suicide is not a sickness),” he said.
However, he clarified that suicide thoughts shared on social media can affect another person.
“Shared thoughts, nadadala ka. Parang mob rule iyon. Nakakaapekto, iba iyong nakakahawa, nakakaapekto [iyon] nakaka-influence iyong thought process, (Shared thoughts can influence you. It is like a mob rule. It is different from being contagious. The thought process can be influential),” he said.
In an episode of UNTV’s morning show Good Morning Kuya, Umali further explained some misconceptions about depression and offered tips to help a person suffering from the disorder.
There are six causes of suicide:
Umali explained that psychosis and depression are the two negative causes of suicide. He also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 1/3 of the population of a country is depressed.
Depression is not an ordinary kind of sadness
Umali said a person with depression is experiencing severe sadness and anhedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure.
He explained that this is due to a hormonal imbalance in the brain. Low serotonin levels and low oxygen levels in the brain are some of the factors which puts a person in a depressive mood.
Symptoms of depression
lack of sleep
lack of appetite
Stop giving advises
Relatives and friends of a person suffering from depression are advised not to carelessly give advice to their loved ones with depression. Umali said not to take away control from the patient.
“Stop giving advice because your advice is your solution and not his solution,” he added.
Exercise but not to the point of exhaustion
It is better for a depressed person to try and get out of bed and do exercises, according to Umali. These include outdoor activities, however, he cautions against pushing oneself to exhaustion.
Avoid eating foods with caffeine
Umali listed down the foods a depressed person should avoid, which include drugs, alcohol, soft-drinks, tea, chocolate, and coffee.
“The last person to know whether he or she is depressed is the person himself,” Umali said. “Kaya kayong mga relatives kapag nakita niyo na iyon kayo na ang gumawa ng aksyon para sa kaniya. (So relatives, if you see [the symptoms] take action for his sake)—AAC
Based on the Millenium Cohort Study of Economic and Social Research Council in United Kingdom, depression in female teenagers is caused by social media overuse.
From 11,000 girls aged 14 from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who participated in the study, 40 percent of the teens who are using social media showed signs of depression.
A concerned mother, Aling Babes, cut off their wifi connection at home to limit her children’s social media use.
She is also monitoring their use of communication gadgets and even knows the passwords to her children’s accounts.
Due to the restrictions, her daughter Sunshine uses most of her time studying and doing chores instead of spending time on her phone.
“Binibigyan natin sila ng oras kung hanggang kalian lang sila social media, alam ko tsaka aware ako,” she said (We schedule their social media time. I know and I am also aware),” Babes said.
Sunshine admits she uses social media to follow her favorite singers.
“Kasi po may GC [group chat] po iyoong idol ko po, tapos doon po kami nag-uusap-usap po,” she said. (My idol has a group chat and we all talk there.)
Psychologist Dra. Camille Garcia said it is important for parents to guide their children especially during teenage years where personality development begins to progress.
Aside from depression, social media overuse can also cause a decrease in the self-esteem of children.
Cyber-bullying and manipulation can also happen in social media.
“Masyado na tayong naging lenient na akala natin ang pagtutuon ng pansin ng ating mga anak sa mga social media account at the same time magkaroon sila ng access sa kanilang mga accounts. Bilang isang magulang, you should know the dapat there should be a limit (We are becoming lenient in monitoring our children and their social media account, at the same time, having access in their social media accounts. As a parent you should know there should be a limit),” she said.
Teenagers should only use social media for a maximum of one hour, Garcia added. — Aileen Cerrudo with reports from Rosalie Coz
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday (January 17) issued a statement calling on the public to help spread awareness against depression following the apparent suicide of drummer Brian Velasco of the ‘90s hard rock band, Razorback.
The 41-year-old drummer fell to his death on Wednesday (January 16) from the 34th floor roof deck of the City Land Tower in Vito Cruz, Malate, Manila, according to a report from Malate Police Station.
He broadcasted his suicide live on Facebook which went viral on social media.
The DOH in its statement calls on the public “to stop sharing the tragic video” in respect to the grieving family.
Instead, the department encourages the public “to start talking about depression to end the stigma surrounding mental health because when left unattended, it (depression) can lead to suicide.”
According to the DOH, about 3.3 million Filipinos suffer from depressive disorder with suicide rate higher in males at 2.5 and 1.7 females per 100,000.
The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, said 800,000 people die every year due to suicide and it is considered the second leading cause of death among individuals age 15 to 49 years old in the world.
The DOH encourages anyone who is suffering from depression or in need of help, to report to the agency’s 24-hour suicide prevention hotline numbers (02) 804-4673; 0917-5584673 or send a SMS to 2919 for globe and TM subscribers. — Marje Pelayo
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