MANILA (Xinhua): The Philippines is seeing "a significant increase" in mental health calls amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday (Sept 10).
The DOH said the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) has noted "a significant increase in monthly hotline calls regarding depression, with numbers rising from 80 calls pre-lockdown to nearly 400."
In a report, the NCMH said there has been an increasing number of suicide-related calls in its crisis hotline since the start of the pandemic. The majority of those who called were residing in Metro Manila, the epicentre of the outbreak.
The average monthly calls after the onset of the pandemic more than doubled as compared to the pre-pandemic months, the report added.
The DOH said it has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) in raising public mental health awareness.
Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the last six months have indeed been difficult for Filipinos.
"Now more than ever, we need to promote holistic health, where we are caring for the body, the mind, and even the spirit," Duque added.
The DOH has launched a multi-sectoral approach for mental health with programs and interventions across a variety of settings such as in workplaces, schools, communities targeting high-risk groups especially those who are undergoing severe forms of depression.
WHO Representative in the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe lamented the stress that Filipinos endure amid the coronavirus lockdowns.
"Many people haven't been able to work or have lost their jobs, some may have had difficulty going back to their home provinces or are impacted by the loss of loved ones or are separated from loved ones," he said.
"This continues to be an especially stressful time," he added, urging people to connect to "someone in your community, workplace, family or circle of friends, or even you may be feeling hopeless, isolated, and feeling they have no reason to live."
"We are not facing this alone. With compassion and understanding for others, we can recognise 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," he added.
The Philippines now has 248,947 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 186,058 recoveries and 4,066 deaths.
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