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Don’t dismiss mental health issues: experts

THE SOUTHERN Philippines Medical Center-Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine urged the public to seek help for mental health issues before patients resort to extreme measures.  

SPMC-IPBM chairperson Dr. Abegail Laganao said that individuals should seek help immediately rather than deal with anxiety and depression on their own, which may lead to dark thoughts of suicide. 

“Considering suicide is an emergency, they can go to any emergency room and any doctor can see them and evaluate,” Laganao said.

Laganao recommends admission to the hospital for those with prior histories of suicidal tendencies or attempts.

“Attempts are preceded with an intense emotion, a very stressful event and once emotion subsides, ma-decrease gihapon ang risk for suicide. Mao nay purpose nato for admission,” Laganao said.

Laganao admitted the shortage of psychiatrists in the country, which is currently at 600 nationwide. As a result, patients experience prolonged waiting times to make appointments. 

However, patients can also consult with allied health professionals, such as licensed psychologists and therapists, who are trained to provide mental illness treatment in the meantime.

Laganao also stressed that schools should intensify information dissemination and mental health fora to educate the students about suicide prevention. They should also establish a mental health program in accordance with the R.A. 11036 or the “Mental Health Act.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Health continues to conduct child and adolescent psychiatry training programs to address the alarming increase in suicide cases since the pandemic. 

Psychiatric consultation is available at the IPBM with a consultation fee of P50. The clinics are open from Monday to Friday except holidays as they are not on an appointment basis. They also offer social services for patients who cannot afford the consultation and medications.

The SPMC-IPBM intervenes with medications and therapy when deemed necessary, with continued treatment even after the discharge of the patient.

The SPMC-IPBM will conduct the “ABC of Psychiatry: A postgraduate course for non-psychiatrists” at the Ritz Hotel at Garden Oases on Nov. 11. This is an initiative of the institute to help with the mental health of the Filipinos and the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day.


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