Real Talk

Mental Health and Filipino Families: We Need To Talk

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The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on our mental health and drove many families insane.

With the lockdowns and false hope of COVID-19 cases dropping, our mental health has definitely been suffering. While it did bring many families together, the road to having that happy family scenario isn’t a smooth one. Clash of personalities, generational gaps, the unspoken hierarchy in some families. These things can take a toll on our mental health and our family’s especially when we find out how different our beliefs are from our kids.

Mental Health: The Stigma in the Philippines

A lot of times, mental health is dismissed as an “overreaction” or “attention-seeking behavior”. This is why a lot of times, people go undiagnosed or refuse to seek help. It’s what Project Lingap sa Bawat Pamilyang Pilipino aimed to change. Also known as the first-ever National Survey on Mental Health and Well-Being, investigators and researchers from UP Manila aimed to find the baseline of mental disorders in the Philippines while encouraging families to seek help if they do think something’s wrong.

8 Lay Interviewers would go door to door to ask how things are at home. Some families have turned them away, not because of COVID-19. Rather, there appears to be a stigma of shame when diagnosed with mental illnesses. But for those who opened their doors, the interviewees found out that there is a path to healing and psychiatric referrals should they need any.

Filipino Families Generally Being Happy: A Lie?

While some of us are quite passionate and aggressive in nature, the majority of us would prefer to keep quiet if it’ll create too much drama in the family. As parents, we keep to ourselves sometimes because we don’t want to destroy our kids’ morale, especially regarding homeschool. Our kids may learn to keep their negative feelings hushed if they’ve encountered moments wherein being truthful about their negative feelings caused them more stress than healing.

We see this in one of the results of NCR having one of the highest suicidal rates. Depression and anxiety usually signal the start of something and all the more it gets worse when we end up burying it for the sake of “peace”.

What can we do?

COVID-19 is just one of the main factors why mental health has gone down the drain. But, there are a lot more reasons why things have become toxic. Our kids’ expectations aren’t met (e.g. them wanting to go to college face to face, etc.) and we doubt our abilities as parents when we can’t shield them from all the stress.

But that’s why positive and open communication is key. While some traditions and biases may interfere with our understanding of our kids’ situations, we need to remember that they’re trying their best to also understand. And if it’s beyond our control, no shame in calling a psychiatrist or psychologist. They’re bound by an oath of confidentiality so whatever happens between you and them stays between you and them.

If you want to know more about the National Survey on Mental Health and Well-Being, you can check out their FB page here: Project Lingap sa Bawat Pamilyang Pilipino | Facebook

Looking for more stuff about mental health? Check out our other articles!

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