Gov’t seeks help from churches on anxiety and depression amid pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 22) — The national government is asking help from religious leaders to provide counsel and guidance to their members, citing a reportedly alarming increase in the number of suicides during the raging pandemic.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that Inter-agency Task Force chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. is alarmed by the situation and needs the help of churches and religious leaders.

“He is seeking the help of our churches and spiritual leaders in providing counsel and guidance to their members and followers who are undergoing depression,” Guevarra said in a text message to religious institutions.

He said that this is in line with the loss of employment and the anxiety brought about by the “dread” of the coronavirus pandemic.

“(I) respectfully request our spiritual leaders to bring this much needed message of hope to our suffering countrymen in order to stave off more incidents of self-destruction,” Guevarra said.

According to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Public Affairs Committee Executive Secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano, they are doing their part in easing the anxiety of people.

Secillano added in his CNN Philippines interview on Saturday that they continually conduct masses and try to uplift people through messages of hope in the homilies.

He added different institutions under the Catholic church are conducting mental health seminars. However, Secillano said that the national government is highly needed in addressing this issue, since it tends to stem from poverty, according to him.

“Hindi lang dapat mag rely ito sa religious sector. Kailangan din dito ng epektibo na intervention na gagawin ng pamahalaan.”

[Translation: They should not completely rely on the religious sector. There is a need for an effective intervention from the government.]

Two overseas Filipino workers have reportedly committed suicide during the pandemic. A 28-year-old female mariner committed suicide in her cabin in the ship where she's had to stay because repatriation flights back to the Philippines in June were suspended.

The other OFW died of suicide in Lebanon in May.

If you are in need of mental health support, please call the 24/7 National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline at (0917) 899-8727 or (02)7-989-8727 or 1553 (Landline-to-landline only).