The congressional representative of Ang Probinsiyano party list has revealed that about 17 million Filipinos are suffering from depression—or about 1/6 of the country's population of 110 million.
Rep. Alfred delos Santos shared that the data comes from the Department of Health, as it's a clear sign that the country ought to prioritize better mental health through funding and by providing citizens with "mental wellness" leaves.
Authored by Delos Santos himself, the proposed House Bill 6253 or “Mental Wellness Leave Act” urges companies to grant an additional five days of leave to employees, alongside the given vacation and sick leaves. These extra five days can be used for a wellness break or even time to consult with professionals regarding one's mental health.
With the pandemic causing unemployment numbers to rise and leaving people with a sense of dread over public safety, Ang Probinsyano's bill plans to address workers' dwindling productivity in the workplace. A survey by mental healthcare firm MindNation showed that 35% of respondents in the private working sector are unproductive for an average of two hours during their daily shifts due to mental health issues.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also found that deaths from suicide grew by 25.7% in 2020.
“With compassion and understanding for others, we can recognize the signs and educate ourselves on how to access help. We all have a critical role in preventing suicide by socially connecting with affected people and connecting people to mental health services or medical care,” shared WHO's Philippine representative, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.
“During this difficult time of living in a pandemic, with stress running high and we are constantly exposed to negative news—looking after your mental health is so important to everyone’s overall well-being," delos Santos concluded.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, NCMH’s crisis hotline is 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP or 1553 (landline, toll-free).
Mental health advocacy group MindNation also has a 24/7 chat hotline that can be accessed here.