Some 200 senior citizens, members of academe and government agencies attended the forum on depression here that stressed “It’s Ok not to be Ok, Let’s Talk.”
Noemi Bron, health education provincial officer of DOH-Bicol’s non-communicable disease prevention and control program (NCDPC), told participants to the forum that it is important to be sensitive to the signs and symptoms of depression which she said is a reality.
“Listen and talk to that person,” she said.
Dr. Jesus Camposano, municipal health officer of San Jacinto, Masbate, shared during the forum that ordinary sadness when it becomes prolonged, leads to depression.
“People who are depressed tends to withdraw from society so it is important to be able to talk with them,” he said.
The burden of depression, a medical mental disorder, is on the rise globally and is seen by WHO to become a major public concern by 2030, according to Windalyn Baluis, coordinator of DOH-Bicol’s mental health program under NCDPC.
She said depression can render a person to become unproductive and at its worst can lead to suicide.
Baluis said a “global school-based health survey” in the Philippines in 2015 showed suicide “peaks” in the 15 to 25-year-old age group.
She said studies have also shown that senior citizens tend to be most prone to depression compared to the other age groups.
Baluis said depression is one of the priority conditions covered by WHO’s “Mental Health Gap” action program which DOH-5 has been implementing in the various provinces in the region over the last two years.
She said through the mental health program, patients in the communities get access to proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication from public health doctors and health workers.
Baluis said DOH-5 provides continuing technical assistance to all public health doctors and health workers in the region to enhance their assessment and management of the patients in their communities.
Camposano, in an interview, said that in San Jacinto, a municipality with 21 barangays and a total population of 31,493, the municipal health office is currently handling 100 mental health patients.
“The patients are identified by midwives, barangay health workers, nurse development program coordinators and barangay officials,” he said.
He added majority of the patients suffer from schizophrenia, post-partum depression, psychosis and anxiety disorders.
“We go to the patients and give them free medications or ‘psychotropic’ drugs,” he added.
Camposano said the patients’ families are engaged in giving psychotherapy to the patients while those acutely ill are referred for hospitalization.
Baluis said if the patients are not accepted, they are neglected and become a burden to the family.
“It is important to help the patients return to normalcy so they can become productive members of the community,” she added. (By Gina V. Rodriguez, PNA)