Mental Health has been regarded as an essential element to one’s wellbeing and its significance was emphasized in this time of COVID pandemic. The Department of Health estimates that at least 3.6 million Filipinos experienced mental health issues in various ways during the pandemic, including depression and other mood disorders, adding to the already existing large population suffering from other serious mental disorders like Schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental illness that may result in some combinations of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that weakens and damages the language, perception, and motor behavior. In 2018, the World Health Organization estimated that at least one million Filipinos suffer from Schizophrenia
Despite interventions to manage this disorder, there are still various existing unmet needs to be addressed, both for those with lived life experience and those who provide personal care such as the mental health professionals and the care givers, whose welfare may have been affected, yet have not well been recognized.
The impact of the issues and situations arising from provision of care, separation among families, financial constraints, and loss of job opportunities, to name a few, on the socioeconomic status and quality of life, cannot be over emphasized.
Recognizing this, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (J&J Philippines) in partnership with the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) – Camarin Extension held a lay fora named “Yakap at Alaga sa Kapwa, Alay sa Pag-iisip”, that aimed to address the caregivers’ burden and strain in managing and treating those with Schizophrenia.
“Given that this is often overlooked and not addressed properly, more often than not, these issues complicate the management and even lead to caregivers giving up completely on the Schizophrenia patients” said J&J Philippines’ associate medical affairs manager for Neurosciences, Dr. Myki Manalo.
Over 150 healthcare professionals, service users, and caregivers attended the event. The discussion highlighted the strategies for caregivers to improve service provision, strategies to strengthen communication skills and hone approaches to commonly encountered challenging situations.
The event was well received and appreciated by the participants and as stated by Dr. Alden C. Cuyos, the Chief Medical & Professional Staff II – Community Service and the executive committee member responsible in the overall operations of NCMH-Camarin Extension, “We are glad to be a recipient of this educational initiative of J&J Philippines. Together, we stand with the service providers and the service users in living optimally, amidst complex situations that may evolve with Schizophrenia. The challenge does not only rest on those with lived life experience, but equally on those who take care of them. Simple as it may seem, such advocacy provides an impact in addressing the common yet unrecognized domains that may cause significant distress and affect quality of life”.