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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Mental health important in fight vs. COVID-19

A House leader is pursuing the activation of mental health desks in all barangays under Republic Act (RA) 11036 or the Mental Health Act, as she expressed concern over the deteriorating mental health situation in the country amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

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By Ellson Quismorio 

A House leader is pursuing the activation of mental health desks in all barangays under Republic Act (RA) 11036 or the Mental Health Act, as she expressed concern over the deteriorating mental health situation in the country amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The establishment of mental health desks in the community level is provided for under Section 16 of RA 11036. The issue on mental health should also be given importance given the mental health risks we are all facing in these uncertain times, both in terms of getting infected and our economic conditions,” said San Jose Del Monte City lone district Rep. Florida Robes, chairperson of the House Committee on People Participation.

The Bulacan solon also appealed to the public to support cause-oriented groups that deal with mental health issues, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

She said that aside from minimum health standards and protocols aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19 in communities, local government units (LGUs) should also establish mental help desks in every barangay to address those suffering from anxiety or depression as a result of the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm over mental health risks as more people all over the world are experiencing depression, which has led to social isolation and round-the-clock fear of the contagion.

This is further compounded by the individual’s loss of income and unemployment.

According to WHO, there has been an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety especially in specific groups, such as frontline healthcare workers, the elderly, children, and adolescents. Experts have also warned that the impact on mental health will be felt much longer than the effects of COVID-19 itself.

It is for this reason, Robes said, that open and constant communication with family members and friends are important. “It is important that people know they have someone they can talk to whenever they feel down or anxious. We need human interaction, especially in these times, but physical distancing is posing a challenge.”

“That is why this should be a community effort in order to still have that connection in these trying times,” stressed the mental health advocate.

The establishment of mental health desks is also another way of providing employment to members of the community. “We certainly have qualified people in our community who can help out in the mental health desks. This may be a good way to provide them employment or give them some form of incentive.”

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