In the Philippines, mental health has only recently become recognized as a public health concern. The stigma around mental disorders and illnesses is still very strong in the country as not a lot of people fully understand them. According to data from the Philippine WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health, around 3.6 million Filipinos suffer from at least one type of mental or neurological disorder, including substance abuse.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic also further triggered mental health decline among Filipinos as we worry about economic stability, financial sustenance, and overall health. Now more than ever, we recognize the need for more mental health professionals and advocates to work toward achieving absolute awareness and to provide the much-needed care and support for Filipinos dealing with mental health issues.
In line with this, we are lucky to have Registered Psychologist Jonathan Robert A. Ilagan, a psychologist in the Philippines as our latest featured healthcare specialist. In the first part of this feature, we take a look at his unique journey into the profession and get insights on the status of mental healthcare in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.