1st Philippine Mental Health Conference

WOW.

For the first time ever, both private and government sectors came together to discuss an important topic: DEPRESSION.

Over 400 participants from different organization, groups and schools were present at Citystate Tower Hotel, Manila to observe Mental Health Day (October 10).

“This is an alarming problem,” says DOH Sec. Enrique T. Ona, “By 2030, the WHO predicts that depression will be the leading cause of disability. I hope this never comes true.”

But, we still have a long way to go. All stakeholders agreed that there is a need for a multisectoral and multi-discipline approach to address mental health- particularly mental depression.

According to a 2006 study done by the National Epidemiology Center, DOH testing government employees of 20 national agencies, 32% have atleast 1 mental health problem. Of this number:

15% Specific Phobias

10% Alcohol Abuse

6% Depression

Depression affects the whole aspect of an individual. It affects even a person’s ability to work efficiently and effectively. Productivity is affected. “Depression should not be ignored,” emphasized PPA President, Dr. Romeo Enriquez, “It is something that we should take care of now.”

Depression is preventable and treatable. It can also affect children as young as 6 month old. In fact, according to a psychiatrist, the youngest recorded case of depression in the Philippines was recorded in 2010. The patient was 1 year old, abandoned by its parents.

“It is society’s duty to protect our children from all types of illnesses,” says Dr. Cornelio Banaag, “perhaps it is no wonder that October is also National Children’s Month. We are observing Mental Wellness Day and National Children’s Month at the same time.”

The conference ended with all stakeholders signing a pledge of commitment. Perhaps it will take years for the Philippines to have a truly functioning mental health program, but we believe that we have taken the first step in addressing this problem.