Pangilinan bats for mental health aid to youth, moms, laid-off workers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published January 24, 2022 6:16pm

Vice presidential aspirant and Senator Francis Pangilinan on Monday highlighted the need to provide mental health assistance to mothers, students, and under-employed or laid off workers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Pangilinan cited an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study which showed a sharp increase in the number of calls received by the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) hotline related to depression and mental health during the pandemic.

The study also indicated that the three most psychologically affected sectors are the young people, mothers, and underemployed or laid-off workers.

“Malala ang epekto ng pandemya at lockdown sa ating lahat, pero lalo na sa ating mga kabataan. Maraming nakakaramdam ng isolation. Maraming nakakaramdam ng takot at pag-aalala dahil nawalan ng trabaho o dahil sa kawalang-tiyakan sa trabaho,” Pangilinan said.

(The pandemic and the lockdown have affected everyone but most especially our youth. A lot of them have experienced the feeling of isolation. Some felt fear and anxiety because of unemployment or due to the lack of job security.)

“Dapat palawakin pa ang kapasidad ng National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) na makatugon sa mga pangangailangan ng ating kabataan,” he suggested.

(We should expand the capacity of the NCMH to respond to the needs of the young people.)

The lawmaker mentioned that the NCMH has received an average of 400 calls per month, which is relatively higher than the 80 calls before the community quarantines and physical distancing guidelines were implemented.

“Mahilig pa naman tayong mga Pilipino makipag-usap. We are a sociable people. Malaking kawalan sa ating buhay ang hindi makita o makausap ang mga kaibigan, kaklase, at maging mga katrabaho,” he pointed out.

(Filipinos are really fond of socializing. We are a sociable people. It is a great loss in our lives if we don’t see or talk with our friends, classmates, or co-workers.)

According to the study, “young adults aged 18-25 are relatively more at risk of episodes of psychological distress” and that “a high incidence of stress, anxiety, and depression among Filipino young adults aged 18-30.”

It said “accumulating worries associated with missing traditional milestones and losing economic opportunities and vital relationships are leading young adults into mental distress amid the ongoing crisis.”

“When all classes went online, the prevailing digital divide put poor students, especially those in more remote areas, at a disadvantage. Amid workplace closures, a large group of workers, particularly part-time employees and those whose work cannot be feasibly done at home, have either been furloughed or have faced reduced working hours with negative consequences on their income and finances,” the ADB study said.

Further, the ADB researchers said they “found robust evidence of women having higher odds of experiencing considerable mental health concerns.”

“Women, especially mothers, face a greater challenge of juggling paid work and domestic responsibilities…[They] have been taking on a greater domestic burden of housework and childcare during the pandemic,” according to the study, noting an increase of housework hours among women in Metro Manila from four hours before the pandemic to seven hours now.

The study was done through a weekly online survey collected from the Philippines by the Imperial College London-YouGov Covid 19 Behaviour Tracker Data Hub between 31 March and 30 September 2020.

“Understandable na dahil maraming nawalan ng trabaho o nabawasan ang working hours, at hindi regular ang kita, nakakadagdag sa stress ang walang-kasiguraduhan. At ‘yan ang nagpapalala ng mental health,” he said.

(It is understandable that because of the loss of jobs or lesser working hours, and irregular income, our countrymen are experiencing a lot more stress. And that worsens our mental health.)

“Kaya naman, bukod sa mental health assistance, kailangan na talagang ayusin ang pagtugon sa pandemya para bumalik na ang economic activity, ang mga trabaho, at ang face-to-face classes,” Pangilinan added.

(That’s why aside from mental health assistance, we need to correct the pandemic response so we can regain normal economic activity, jobs, and the face-to-face classes.)–Hana Bordey/AOL, GMA News

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