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Don't Invalidate!: Situationer On Mental Health Stigma In The Philippines

In the Philippines, stigma against mental illness is still pervasive and continues to be pervasive. But there has been a gradual movement toward genuine, long-lasting transformation through the help of different groups and organizations. Hence, the stigma surrounding people who have been diagnosed with mental problems is gradually giving way to acceptance and comprehension. This is seen in how more opportunities for constructive conversation are emerging in Filipino culture. Each tale advances the discussion and gradually reverses this feeling of shame. One of the adjustments made was the signing of the Mental Health Bill or the Republic Act No. 11036 in 2018. This is a win because through this law, it implies that mental health is a fundamental human right.

Depression is Not Just being Sad and Dramatic

It was 2020 when depression is regarded as a significant medical illness by the Department of Health (DOH). This is a comforting development, especially in light of the fact that according to data, over 3 million Filipinos suffer from depression (University Research Co., 2021).

In fact, depression is now as frequent as the common cold, with young Filipino people at greatest risk (ages 18-34). Statistics show that 8 Filipinos per 100,000 commit suicide. The majority of the Filipino men in these cases are between the ages of 15 and 29. We are on the verge of a significant advancement in the Philippines' fight against stigma associated with mental illness. However, knowing the beginning of this problem is essential to better understand the possibilities.

Difference of Sadness and Depression

Sadness is a common response to losses, setbacks, issues, or other trying circumstances. As a human, it is normal to experience sadness from time to time. In these situations, depressive emotions pass fast, allowing you to carry on with your usual activities.

Other phrases, based on HeretoHelp’s (2022) blog, for sorrow include “feeling low,” “feeling down,” and “feeling blue.” Although someone may claim to be depressed, if the emotion passes on its own and has little to no negative effects on daily life, it is usually not a sign of depression.

Depression is a mental condition that has an impact on your mood, how you view yourself, and how you perceive and interact with the world. Other terms for it include major depression, clinical depression, and major depressive disorder. Depression can strike suddenly and continue for a very long time. More than just melancholy or a bad mood describe it. Depression can make a person feel hopeless or unworthy. They might have irrational guilt. Some people’s symptoms of sadness may include rage or irritation. It could be challenging to focus or decide what to do. Most people lose interest in the activities they formerly enjoyed and may even become socially isolated.

Root Causes of Mental Health Stigma in the Philippines

Filipinos take pride in their ability to endure and their so-called “resiliency.” The ability of Filipinos to adapt well in the face of frequently overwhelming adversity, such as natural disasters and socio-economic upheavals, which have become significant sources of stress and worry for decades, characterizes this culture of resilience.

Filipino resiliency, according to historian Jose Canoy, is a protective mechanism that many people use when they have no other option. Therefore, it has become ingrained in us to handle matters on our own and to minimize mental health issues, whether it be our own experience or that of a close friend or family member.

These restrictions are reflected in the regional tongue. Nearly all mental health illnesses on the spectrum are frequently referred to by the catch-all term “baliw” meaning “crazy.”

On a bigger scale, the stigma associated with mental illness in the Philippines is caused by a dearth of public health education. There are still some people who are not properly informed about the differences between schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, for example.

However, societal and cultural stigmas around mental illness will gradually dissipate as a result of increased mental health education initiatives in schools and the workplace, paving the way for awareness and understanding.

Common Barriers in the Philippines to Getting Care

The Philippines is one of the most emotionally charged nations in the world, according to the Gallup 2019 Global Emotions study. Although this cathartic culture may be beneficial for those who are dealing with mental health problems, it can also be the very thing that prevents expression. Why? Because people who have mental health problems either turn to their family and friends for support or just withdraw within themselves, without thinking about seeking professional care. When someone does decide to disclose their emotional and mental issues, most others reject them as easily treatable—often by simple socialization or religion.

Others could jump to hasty conclusions and claim that a person with a mental condition cannot contribute meaningfully to society. And the only choice left is to admit them to a psychiatric hospital.

Another barrier is the cost of therapy in the Philippines. Costing thousands of pesos, professional assistance is pricey. At a private hospital, a regular therapy session is approximately Php 2,000. These challenges are now being overcome, though, as the government realizes how urgently the Philippines needs to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness. Thus, access to mental health care has improved as a result of the current Philippine Mental Health Law. The confinement, examinations, and treatment for patients with mental health conditions are now covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

Overcoming Mental Health Stigma

The root of other people’s judgment is nearly always a lack of knowledge and comprehension. The person battling the negative impacts of stigma in their own life may find it helpful to learn to accept their condition and to recognize the steps they need to take to treat it (MayoClinic, 2017).

  • Get treatment. You might be hesitant to acknowledge your need for treatment. Do not hesitate to seek assistance because you are worried about receiving a diagnosis of a mental disorder. By figuring out what's wrong and lessening symptoms that interfere with your career and personal life, treatment can offer relief.

  • Don’t let stigma lead to shame and self-doubt. Stigma comes from a variety of sources. You can erroneously think that you are weak or that you should be able to manage your illness on your own. You can build self-esteem and get rid of negative self-judgment by going to counseling, learning more about your illness, and making connections with other people who are also struggling with mental illness.

  • Avoid being by oneself. You might be reluctant to disclose that you have a mental condition. If they are aware of your mental illness, your family, friends, clergy, or members of your community can support you. For the understanding, support, and compassion you require, reach out to those you trust.

  • Do not link your condition with yourself. No, you are not ill. So instead of stating "I'm bipolar," say "I have bipolar disease," or "I have schizophrenia," instead of calling yourself "a schizophrenic."

  • Sign up for a support group. By educating persons with mental illness, their families, and the general public, certain regional and national organizations provide local activities and online resources that help reduce stigma.

  • Ask for assistance at your school. Find out what plans and programs can be helpful if you or your kid suffers from a mental illness that interferes with learning. It is illegal to discriminate against students because of a mental condition, and teachers at all levels—primary, secondary, and college—must make every effort to make accommodations for these kids. Ask professors, administrators, or teachers for advice on the most effective strategies and tools. Lack of knowledge about a student’s impairment by a teacher may result in prejudice, obstacles to learning, and subpar grades.

  • Be vocal about stigma. Think about sharing your ideas at gatherings, in letters to the editor, or online. It can encourage those suffering the same difficulties and inform the public about mental illness.

The majority of the time, rather than being informed based on facts, other people’s opinions are based on a lack of comprehension. It can make a great difference to learn to embrace your disease and identify what you need to do to treat it, seek assistance, and contribute to the education of others.

Never be afraid to seek help. You may message the Fidecita Facebook Page or email us at for more details on our services.

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