Doctor advocates for good mental health

An advocate of mental health, psychiatrist Dr. Renato Obra advocates for mental health, pointing out that health is not just the absence of diseases in the body. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is also the balance between mental, physical and spiritual aspects.

When Hopeline, a 24/7 confidential crisis support service, started in August 2015, it received 17 calls. In October 2015, it recorded 202 calls. In March 2016, it recorded 521 calls.

The callers include those who open up to the responder about their thoughts on ending their own lives and those who tried before but did not succeed.

Hopeline is an information and communication hub for persons experiencing emotional crisis. Responders comprise of nurses and psychologists whose task is to take calls of persons seeking advice or looking for someone to talk to.

The most number of calls was placed between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. and between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. Twenty-eight percent of callers are males and 72 percent are females.  The high risk can be found among the 21-30 year old age bracket. There are also calls from overseas Filipino workers.

A memorandum of agreement is currently being planned between provincial authorities and Hopeline center since some suicide cases are from the municipalities.

According to Obra, committing suicide is egoistic in nature for some who have a loose support system. There are people who have no one to talk to or share their problems with. These are persons who need to be around good listeners, he said.

Others may have strong attachments such that they come out brainwashed. One example cited by Obra is the case of the suicide bombers. Another type is those who need family attention and those who have achieved a certain level of life. They find themselves on the downtrend and may resort to taking their own life.

Obra would like to change people’s notion that seeing a psychiatrist means one is crazy or insane. Doing so is affording the concerned person the chance to open up and in the process, the psychiatrist or psychologist may have the chance to talk the person out of suicide.

The most common forms of suicide are slashing, hanging and ingestion of dangerous substances. What is also important, said Obra, is watching out for signs of depression, including deterioration of personal hygiene, in constant deep thought, loss of interest, suicidal thoughts, poor work performance, loss of focus, voracious eating, and poor eye to eye contact.

Obra says responders can gauge the success of their conversation with the callers through his or her reaction, such as thanking the responder for taking the call or saying he or she would not try suicide again.