Did you know that 1 in 5 Filipino adults are suffering from psychiatric disorders? This plus the 10 to 15% of children aged 5 to 15 believed to be affected by mental problems as well. These numbers merely tell the story about the mental health situation in the Philippines.
And while it is long overdue, it is a relief that the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) under the administration of President Duterte, is finally putting importance in this aspect of the Philippine healthcare.
As such, here are the four of the most common mental illnesses that the Filipino people are facing:
According to the study conducted by Dr. Tomas Bautista, about 42% of the 2,562 patients with mental illness suffer from this condition, making it the most common mental illness in the Philippines—with it making up roughly 1% of the country’s total population.
Of these patients, the majority belongs to the age group of 20-44. Most of them are men.
Triggered by many factors such as genetics, and environmental stress, patients with schizophrenia experience hallucinations, delusions, and mood disturbances. The number one reason why patients with schizophrenia are admitted is auditory hallucination.
Excessive alcohol consumption, opium injections, or use of illegal drugs are all under substance abuse. And this is nothing new to the country.
According to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), about 5,402 Filipinos were admitted in mental health facilities due to drug use in 2015. Most of them use methamphetamine hydrochloride with a rate of 96.74%, followed by marijuana (24.94%) and cocaine (1.11%).
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The Philippines has been through calamities like typhoons, landslides, and even volcanic eruptions, which left many Filipinos with negative health effects including mental problems.
In 1991, Filipinos experienced the wrath of Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Among the mental problems observed from the victims according to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), PTSD was the top illness with a prevalence rate of 27.6%, followed by depression (14%).
A more recent event that caused a rise on PTSD cases in the Philippines is the Typhoon Yolanda which hit the country in 2013.
Depression can be linked to many factors. From broken marriages, to loss of a loved one; extreme sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness seem inevitable.
With the lack of resources due to the poor socioeconomic status of a number of Filipinos, they develop physical sickness and insecurity, which make them more vulnerable to depression.
One of the most unfortunate parts linked to depression is suicide. In 2012 alone, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 2,558 cases of Filipinos committing suicide. Even the youth now resort to choosing suicide as a means to escape life’s problems.
Measures taken to address the mental health of Filipinos
On May 2, senators passed on third and final reading the Mental Health Act of 2017 or the Senate Bill No 1354.
Co-authored by Senators Risa Hontiveros, Vicente Sotto, Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes, Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara and Joel Villanueva, the bill aims to establish a public mental health system accessible and affordable to all Filipinos. According to Senator Hontiveros, the passing of the bill marks a historic milestone for the Philippine healthcare.
The bill also got support from known personalities in the Philippines, such as Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, former Philippine President Joseph Estrada’s daughter Jerika Ejercito, and TV actress Antoinette Taus.
Verzosa, who was diagnosed with clinical depression, said in a statement, “I would like to be the voice of this generation's youth who are unable to speak out about their disorder because of stigma." MIMS
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