Mental illnesses are the third most common form of illness among Filipinos, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO). Between 17 and 20 percent of Filipino adults experience psychiatric disorders, while 10 to 15 percent of Filipino children aged 5 to 15 suffer from mental health problems.

Unfortunately, the prolonged community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing mental health problems in an increasing number of Filipinos. Before the community quarantine began in March 2020, the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) Hotline received 60 to 80 calls per month. Since the lockdown, the hotline has been getting an average of 300 to 400 calls a month from persons claiming to be suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental conditions.

Warning signs and symptoms of mental illness

Recognizing common signs and symptoms is the vital first step in helping a loved one suffering from mental illness.  

Adults, Young Adults and Adolescents

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Strange thoughts (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance use

Older Children and Pre-Adolescents

  • Substance use
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical ailments
  • Changes in ability to manage responsibilities – at home and/or at school
  • Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
  • Intense fear
  • Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

Younger Children

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

If you or your loved ones experience these signs and symptoms, seek help immediately. Call the 24/7 NCMH Hotline at (0917) 899-8727 and (02) 8-989-8727.

References: Accessed 10 September 2020 Accessed 10 September 2020 Accessed 10 September 2020 Accessed 10 September 2020 Accessed 10 September 2020

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