‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE’: DOH-6 gears up for community-based approach to mental health

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor 

In observance of Mental Health Day today, October 10, the Department of Health-Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-WV CHD) is reminding everyone that you are not alone and that there are groups that provide help to people with mental health concerns.

Dr. Aimee Marie Gayomali, Section Head of the Integrated Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Program of DOH-6, emphasized the importance of initiating conversations about mental health within our communities.

She acknowledged that despite the pressing need, mental health remains a sensitive and often taboo subject.

“In view of the rising cases, kinahanglan man natun nga ipatabok man sa atun nga pumuluyo ang atun mental health kay bal an ta man, taboo pa dyapon ang mental health. Kinahanglan i-made closer gid namun siya sa community,” she stressed.

DOH-WV CHD held a two-day event that caters to topics on ethical and responsible reporting and portrayal of suicide in the reporting of journalists and police authorities, along with benchmarking best practices among healthcare facilities throughout the region.

“Sometimes gusto man natun i-convey ang mga suicide cases pero there is a proper way gid yah abi because sometimes amo man ni siya sang ang cause kung ngaa daw naghimo na siya template for others to join,” she explained.

Gayomali underscored the need to have a guideline in the creation of media materials that increase help-seeking behavior among individuals who already may be at risk for suicide.

“Kinahanglan na gid natun nga ma streamline nga parareho ang reporting natun,” she added.

The DOH-WV CHD will also conduct a workshop for suicide cases reporting among officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Since ang data is coming from the PNP […] tudluan man sila sa kung man ang proper nga recording of suicide cases,” she said.

On October 11, the agency will also gather medical officers from provincial and city health offices to share their best practices in developing community-based mental health services.

Gayomali added that the DOH-WV CHD will also streamline the establishment to all health facilities of an internal review board. The board will be responsible to cater and preserve the rights of quality of the service users.

Suicide cases in the province have tripled since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic according to Gayomali.

“Before the pandemic naga less than 100 kita in a year or mostly mga 200 in a year pero after the pandemic, nag triple kita. Sa sini pa lang nga 1st semester of 2023 […] naga 200 plays na kita nga suicide cases,” she said.

Data from the DOH-WV CHD indicated that the region recorded 93 suicide cases in the 1st quarter (January to March) of 2023, and 106 suicide cases in the 2nd quarter (April to June).

The breakdown of suicide cases this year is as follows: Aklan (25 cases), Antique (14 cases), Capiz (21 cases), Guimaras (12 cases), province of Iloilo (52 cases), Negros Occidental (53 cases), Bacolod City (9 cases), and Iloilo City (13 cases).

Gayomali said suicide cases are prevalent among adolescents and young adults aged 15-to-24-year-olds, with depression identified as a major factor leading to suicide.

“Tani ga expect kami nga ma decrease by this year pero ang trend daw still increasing and ang most of our suicide cases gid yah ara sa young adult and adolescence. Most [of the] reasons [are] family problems,” she shared.

In 2022, a total of 351 suicide deaths were recorded in Western Visayas. Iloilo had the highest number of recorded deaths at 99.

Those in need of mental health services may call the following:

DOH WV CHD Mental Health Program

Smart: 0998 532 4047

Facebook Page: MH Connect/Facebook


Iloilo Provincial Health and Social Welfare and Development Offices (PRIME)

Smart: 0998 539 6704/ 0946 539 7929

Globe: 0915 542 6885/ 0977 122 0327


Aklan Provincial Health Office

Smart: 0970 599 9734


Antique Provincial Health Office

Smart: 0928 341 8475

Globe: 0966 166 5255


Capiz Provincial Health Office

Smart: 0921 991 2064

Globe: 0916 241 1596


lloilo City Health Office

Landline: (033) 315-3012

Facebook Page: lloilomhpss


Negros Occidental Health Office

Globe: 0965 982 1851

Smart: 0961 572 9197