DOH launches Mental Health Fair, Congress

LEGAZPI CITY--The Department of Health in Bicol strengthened its response to mental health by tying up the launch of the 2nd Mental Health Fair and the 6th Mental Health Congress with the theme “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World” at the Embacardero De Legazpi Convention Hall last October 11.

A total of more than 700 participants comprised of students, health workers, non-government organization, senior citizens, and other stakeholders attended the event which tackled the topics regarding mental health, particularly in adolescents, and the prevalence of substance abuse in youth. 

According to Dr. Melissa Paulito Mariano, from the Department of Psychiatry, in general, problematic pattern of use of the Internet / computer can be considered as internet addiction disorder. Mariano stated that poor real-life social or peer dynamics prompts teenagers’ excessive use of the internet. She also noted that people who develop addiction have higher risk to development mental disorders. 

Adult, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Dr. Elham Mae Bocalbos also shared that 50% of teenagers consider lack of understanding from family or peers as the main factor contributing to their depression. But on top of that, she mentioned that there is an emerging depression caused by using social media and dubbed it as “Facebook Depression” wherein users feel the lack of acceptance from online peers. 

Bocalbos added that if depression is not left in check, it may add difficulties in learning, impair relationships, or even lead to suicide. She discussed the symptoms of depression of an individual comes in the form of constantly feeling fatigue, lack of concentration, having trouble sleeping, sudden loss or gain of weight due to unusual appetite, anhedonia or the inability to feel pleasure, and surging feelings of guilt or worthlessness. 

Bocalbos urged the participants to take note of these symptoms or red flags to prevent matters from escalating. She suggested that they talk to an individual if they notice a symptom of a depressive behaviour. People can also encourage them to seek professional help when necessary.

A public consultation on the implementing rules and regulations of the National Mental Health Act was also conducted under the supervision of Frances Prescilla Cuevas, National Program Manager of DOH. 

To end, OIC Regional Director of DOH CHD Bicol, Dr. Napoleon Arevalo reiterated the importance of talking and not hesitating to seek help. He also assured that the DOH would strengthen its campaign and advocacy to destroy the stigma on mental health. Arevalo also added that despite DOH CHD Bicol being the model of mental health care in the Philippines, it would continue to look for ways to upgrade its services.//NSAU