Eradicating the Stigma and Raising the Awareness

Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated to particular circumstances or persons and it is synonymous to shame, disgraced, dishonor or even humiliation. What’s worst with this is that it brings the feelings of distressed, hopelessness and the feeling of being stereotyped. Some are misinterpreted by the media which make them reluctant to seek and/or accept necessary help. I am glad to tell you that one of focuses in today’s health is Mental Health which has been a long time loop hole in the government, in the medical field and in the society most especially in the Philippines. Mental health is the psychological state of well being who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment.
Last September 10, 2016, a group of health professionals, volunteers and people from twitter launched #MentalHealthPH in twitter during the health talk session of #healthxph from 9:00-10:00 PM. It was led by Roy D (@rdahildahil_) as the moderator. 

An inclusive and empowered community for people affected by mental health problems. #MentalHealthPH ~@mentalhealth_ph

It started with the first question, T1: How to identify people with suicidal tendencies. What are signs to watch out.
It was said that in the year 2012, the estimated number of suicides in the Philippines was 2,558 and from a report in philstar last 2014, the World Health Organization stated that there is someone who commits suicide every 40 seconds which is really alarming. A research was done involving 172 countries, it was found out that the Southeast Asia made up over a third of the annual rate. In 2012, it became the 15th leading cause of death all over the world and the most frequently used methods are pesticide poisoning, hanging and firearms and jumping from buildings is a common method in highly urbanized areas. Some of the major factors that leads to suicide is alcoholism, depression, personality disorder and some physical illness.
Going back to the first question, how do we really identify people with suicidal tendencies? Unfortunately, due to the stigma in the social media, there are some people who try to isolate themselves. This is dangerous to those who live away from their family because they tend to keep their problems within their selves. The fear of being judged and bullied by others are one of the reasons of isolation.
Here are some tweets during the session:

Here are some early warning signs from

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
Next question was: T2: How to reach out to people with suicidal tendencies? What are the do’s and don’ts?

Reaching out to people who don’t want help can be very challenging. As the cliche goes, it gets one to no one and I guess those who have undergone the same phase are the best people to talk with. Some of them are already close minded thinking that you won’t understand them because you’ve never been in their shoes. No matter how cold and hard they are always show them that you care. Tell them that you are there to listen. Don’t talk too much but always have your wide ears open when they are about to break down. Moreover, give some positive vibes, positive environment and always be kind and be the one who is understanding.
The last question was T3. Now with SoMe (social media), how can this be used as a tool to help address suicide tendencies, depression and other MH problems?

The Social Media is a great venue for raising health awareness regarding mental health issues since most of the people are already into it. In this way, we can share our stories about depression or the downfall we encountered and how we cope up with it so that those who has issues realize that there is always hope. Through the power of our fingertips, we can bring a great impact to those someone who don’t reach out too much within their family. Somehow, we are able to shed a light to those who are isolating themselves in the darkness. This will also bring a ripple effect to those who never thought about this issue. They will be able to learn that it is not only the known disease like Diabetes, Hypertension, HIV and cancer are emerging in the health issues of today. Mental Health is also another matter that we should take seriously. Our goal here just like in HIV is to eradicate the stigma.
This is only the beginning…

I am glad to be a volunteer of #MentalHealthPH because I have gone through depression and suicidal tendencies but was able to cope up with the help of friends in the social media. I even wrote about Suicide few years ago (Read: When Suicide Becomes An Option) and it still aches me a little bit whenever I read it.
As Medical Student and a volunteer, I want to help those who are suffering from depression or who are going to that point because rising from the downfall was never been easy. It takes courage and faith to keep going. I willing to extend a helping hand and wide ears open to those who are in need in help.
I happy to bring you the news that the there is already a health assistance hotline for depression and suicide  prevention.

“The responders…have been trained by psychiatrists and psychologists, it’s a very intensive training, and we also screen them in terms of their mental capacity, in terms of their emotional capacity, and in terms of their educational background. These are professionals that will be answering the hotline,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial told reporters on Tuesday. Source: (

So there is nothing really to be ashamed of because they handles confidentiality as well. As we all know that some teenagers are afraid to open up what they are feeling and what they are thinking due to stigma. There will be always hope.
If you want to be a volunteer of #MentalHealthPH, you can sign up through online at here:

Let’s come together and help raise awareness about Mental Health. πŸ™‚ 
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Marica, a 20-something lady who loves to explore new things in the world while juggling her life in the medical field.

No Comments

  1. This is a very important cause and I'm happy you're part of it! πŸ™‚ It's about time mental health be given enough attention because there have been many who are affected by it until now (and will probably grow in the coming years). I'm also glad that HOPELINE is now available!

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