“The basic foundation of good mental health is self-care.”

This was the message of Mr. Jeffrey Garcia, Senior Health Program Officer of the Local Health Support Division-Mental Health Unit of the Department of Health (DOH)-Cagayan Valley Center for Health Development (CVCHD) during his guesting at the 10th episode of the radio program Populasyon: Pag-usapan Natin on October 13, 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of health care provider.

“Taking care of yourself and your own mental health will help you rise above any kind of situation. Regardless of the circumstances, we have to learn to bounce back stronger,” added Mr. Garcia in relation to the localized theme of the Mental Health Awareness Month Celebration this October: “Pagsibol ng Pag-asa sa Gitna ng Pandemya.”

He advised everyone, to take a break whenever needed to unload extra burdens and let the mind breathe. “We all need a mental health break, let us not deny ourselves of this important opportunity to avoid things we cannot control and to accept things we cannot do anything about,” he said.

Mental health is a human right as exemplified in the salient provisions of Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Law. Mr. Garcia encouraged people who are mentally struggling to seek medical advice from health professionals and avail of free services offered by their satellite centers at the rural health units (RHUs).

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the suicide rate nationwide has increased by 25.7% from 2,808 registered deaths due to intentional self-harm in 2019 to 3,529 in 2020, making suicide the 27th leading cause of death among Filipinos. With this, the DOH-CVCHD continues to intensify its advocacy programs to raise awareness on the importance of mental health and provide funding support to local government units (LGUs) and hospitals to aid in the procurement of medicines and other necessary materials for counseling and services to clients.

Mr. Garcia emphasized that the suicide rate in Region 2 in 2020 was at 3.61% involving mostly youth and young adult males ages 18-39 at 84.21%.

DOH-CVCHD has already set-up and operationalized the Project Gabay in 2020, a crisis management and teleconsultation strategy which caters to thousand of clients regionwide as of August 2021.

“Let us all be kind. We can never tell when someone is going through rough times, so let us spread kindness and compassion especially during these trying times,” he concluded.

For more details and counseling services, he advised everyone to contact these numbers: 0917-511-5463 and 0917-531-5463.#