November 29, 2023

House holds webinar on breaking the stigma on depression

IN support of the National Mental Health Awareness Month, the House of Representatives on Wednesday hosted the second part of the ISIP Series webinar entitled, “ISIP Series: Rising Up from Depression.”

In-house psychiatrist Dr. Ma. Bernadette Arcena MD, DPBP, FPPA said it is beneficial for everyone to have a greater understanding of depression, being one of the most serious mental health problems at present. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the impact of depression on some individuals’ mental well-being. “There was an upsurge of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and would you believe, domestic violence,” she said.

Dr. Arcena stressed that addressing depression effectively requires a holistic strategy that encompasses awareness, reducing stigma, early diagnosis, effective treatment, and a strong support system.

The panel also delved into the early warning signs of suicide stemming from depression. According to Dr. Arcena, studies and data show that women have a higher incidence of suicidal attempts, but men are more likely to carry out completed suicidal actions. She cited the following as some of appropriate and inappropriate actions to take when someone is displaying symptoms of depression or having suicidal thoughts: 1) avoid pressuring or nagging the individual, 2) acknowledge and respect their emotions, 3) ensure that you convey your presence and concern, 4) provide space for the person to express their feelings, 5) listen without passing judgment, and 6) refrain from leaving the person alone. 

It is also important to promptly seek professional help even when an individual is just experiencing early signs of depression or suicidal thoughts.

The House Medical and Dental Service (MDS) provides psychiatric assistance along with online consultations for House Secretariat and their dependents. MDS Director Dr. Luis Jose Bautista stated during the lecture that assistance is always available to anyone struggling from or showing signs of depression. The Department of Health (DOH) also offers crisis hotline numbers for those who need assistance regarding their mental health. These are: 1553 for landline areas across Luzon;  0917-899-USAP (8727), 0966-351-4518 or 0908-639-2672. The webinar is hosted by in-house physician, Dr. Enrico Conrado Rossi,