Barangay mental health desks pushed

IN a bid to address the worsening mental health situation in the country due to the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, a lawmaker on Sunday pushed for the activation of mental health desks in barangays under Republic Act (RA) No. 11036 or the Mental Health Act.

San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan Rep. Florida Robes also called on the public to give time and donation to cause-oriented groups that deal
with mental health issues such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Aside from protocols put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 in communities and manage those who may have the disease, Rober said local government units should put in place mental help desks in every barangay to address those suffering from anxiety or depression as a result of the pandemic.

“The establishment of mental health desks in the community level is provided for under Section 16 of RA 11036. The issue on mental health should also be given importance given the mental health risks we are all facing in these times of uncertainties both in terms of getting infected and our economic conditions,” said Robes, a mental health advocate.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm over mental health risks as more and more people all over the world are experiencing depression due to the impact of Covid-19 which include social isolation, fear of contagion, compounded by loss of income and employment.

The WHO announced that there is an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety especially specific population groups such as frontline
health-care workers, the elderly, children and adolescents.

Experts have also warned that the impact on mental health will be felt much longer than the effects of COVID-19 itself.

It is for this reason, Robes said, that open and constant communication with family members and friends are important.

“It is important that people know they have someone they can talk to whenever they feel down or anxious. We need human interaction especially in these times but the physical distancing is posing a challenge. That is why this should be a community effort in order to still have that connection in these trying times,” said Robes.

The establishment of mental health desks is also another way of providing employment to members of the community, she said.

“We have certainly qualified people in our community who can help out in the mental health desks and this may be a good way to provide them employment or give them some form of incentives,” Robes pointed out.