Dr. Roland Cortez, Chief of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) announced that with the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in different parts of the country due to the still rising number of people who are CoViD-19 positive, may result in more Filipinos to suffer from depression.

“A lot of people are sad and some slowly lose interest in life because of the lockdown,” Dr. Cortez said during an online press conference held yesterday.

Dr. Cortez also told media to expect the number of depressed individuals to gradually rise as the announced prolonged lockdown is realized especially for those living in highly urbanized locations like in Mega Manila.

Prior to the onset of the CoViD-19 pandemic, NCMH has recorded depression as the 3rd leading cause of consultation in the hospital with a total of 637 patients in 2019. Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder came in first and second.

With the pandemic, Dr. Cortez revealed that their 24-hour Crisis Hotline numbers receives as many as 200 calls a day.

“Depression is on the rise because of the feeling of uncertainty. When will I go back to work? Do I still have work after the ECQ? How do I feed my family? When will we stop depending on government aid? When will COVID-19 be totally eradicated?” Dr. Cortez explained. “Anxiety and nervousness are common. They always worry about their finances. They feel uneasy inside their houses. They are uncertain of the future,” he added.

To combat depression while on ECQ, Dr. Cortez has suggested the following activities:

  • Learn new skills, learn art. Indulge in poetry, painting or learn to play an instrument. Be creative.
  • Take a break from listening to bad news or reading too much about the pandemic. Listen to your favorite music or watch feel-good movies. Clean the house or read inspiring books.
  • Get an eight-hour sleep daily. Drink at least eight glasses of water. Exercise regularly. Take deep breaths. Meditate or practice mindfulness, eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs.
  • Pray.

Dr. Cortez also said that parents should reassure their kids that the ECQ is temporary and that when it is lifted, they can play again outside the house with their friends.

For senior citizens, Dr. Cortez said that they should exercise by walking around the house. Or even by simply flexing their arms and legs. Loved ones should cheer them up with good news. Allow them also to connect with their friends and relatives via social media.

During the conference, Dr. Cortez also mentioned that NCMH will only be admitting patients who are suicidal or those who are in danger of hurting themselves and others.

They have also assigned Pavilion 7 of the hospital as an isolation room for patients with CoViD-19. They have a total of 3,200 in-hospital psychiatric patients and staff.

Currently 16 patients are identified CoViD-19 positive. One (1) patient have already fully recovered.

A total of 60 NCMH staff are confirmed CoViD-19 positive – 55 of which are now on home quarantine, 2 are confined at Tala and 3 at the QC Institute. No staff are confined at the Mental Hospital.  Out of the 60 staff who have been found CoViD-19 positive, 11 are now fully recovered.

For those who need help – you may call the NCMH Crisis Hotline numbers 0917-898-USAP (8727) and 989-USAP (8727).

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