Spike in cases prompt Kalinga to ramp up mental health campaign

*Trigger warning: mention of suicide

CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga (PIA) — The inter-agency “Kapehan Body” chaired by Gov. James S. Edduba has set the month of April as Mental Health Awareness Month in Kalinga amid the uptrend of mental cases in the province.

The governor tasked the Provincial Health Office (PHO) with coming up with mental health awareness-raising activities throughout the month.

In the first quarter of 2024 alone, Kalinga logged five attempted suicide cases, and six completed suicide cases. Of the total cases, ten were in the 16-30 age bracket while the oldest was 50 years old.

PHO head Dr. Edward B. Tandingan stressed the need for an intersectoral response to address the problem.

“Ang suicide is a health problem. There are a lot of risk factors but it is preventable through inter-sectoral participation,” he said.

Tandingan emphasized the importance of support at the community level, urging barangay health workers and midwives to lend a listening ear to individuals experiencing mental health issues.

“In mental health, ang main activity is somebody willing to listen kasi kailangan merong magsasabi na merong makikinig sa sinasabing issue. I think everybody can offer their listening ears,” he said.

According to Tandingan, capacity-building activities are  also lined up to bolster the knowledge and capability of decision-makers, implementers, and health workers to respond to the problem.

A training of community leaders on mental health will be held in Baguio City on April 25-26 where concerned committees of Sangguniang bodies of the local government units are expected to attend.

There will also be a mental health leadership training on May 14-17 for the governor and the PHO, Tandingan said.

Earlier, the Department of Health-Cordillera in partnership with the World Health Organization facilitated mental health training for local health workers.

Mental health experts trained 20 medical doctors, and 14 healthcare workers from the different towns of Kalinga in managing mental health cases during the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) supervision sessions on April 3 and 4. (IOS-PIA Kalinga)

The provincial government holds a candle-lighting service for victims of suicide. (Photo credit: Kalinga-PIO)

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