Issue of October 15, 2017
Mt. Province

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A recent comment by a popular noontime television show host that people suffering from depression are just making up their condition revealed a lot about how some people could be indifferent to the plight of individuals dealing with mental health issues.

On the other hand, it is reassuring to note that a lot is aware on the seriousness of the condition, as displayed by the number of individuals airing their sympathy for people dealing with the problem, leaving the host-comedian earning public ire for his pronouncement.

While the famous host-cum-actor was quick to offer a public apology, such remark has no place in a society where cases of suicide among Filipinos, youth included, were attributed to depression, a form of mental health condition.

Let us be reminded by the World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2012 that there were 2,558 cases of Filipinos committing suicide, averaging to seven suicide cases per day while the Department of Health reported that one in five Filipino adults has some form of mental illness, topped by schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. This shows that mental health issue is a public concern, not a laughing matter.

For one, while drugs are widely available to treat the symptoms of mental health conditions, the causes of depression are not healed, as no amount of drug prescription will stabilize the mental health of concerned individuals without the right interventions from people close to them and the society in general.

If experts on mental health regard depression as a serious condition, there should be no reason for a layperson to consider it a trivial matter, much more publicly utter that it is an invented mental state or make a mockery of it.

It should be recognized that depression could hit anyone; rich or poor, ordinary people or celebrities. If wealth and fame are the assurance of a happy and worry-free life, then we should not have learned about rich and well known people who have suffered from the ailment, some dying from it and others going to the extent of taking their own lives.

Nobody wants to be sad. For sure, nobody would want to go through an extreme, prolonged sadness, which is depression. If, in our ordinary lonely times, we need a shoulder to lean on surely, they who are suffering from depression need more understanding and compassion so they could rise above their struggle.

We join health professionals and advocates of mental wellness in reassuring people suffering from depression that they are not alone in their predicament. While we may not be experts, we believe that in some instances, one need not be a professional in order to help. At times, lending an ear can help alleviate one’s suffering. It may be tempting to just dismiss the sentiments of a colleague opening up personal problems, a minute or two of just listening may help them a lot.

We laud the Duterte administration for listing the passage of the Mental Health Law as one of the priority bills this year, an indication that our national government is on track in its bid to craft a national mental health policy for the country.

Just like a child terrified of what may seem for grownups as a petty matter, people undergoing extreme loneliness need help. Their condition should not be taken for granted.

Instead of joking about the condition of depressed people, let us reach out to them and make them realize that life, at times, can be harsh, but it is worth living it – because depression is no laughing matter.



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