The city’s Mental Health and Wellness unit said 136 volunteers, aged 18 to 30 years, have completed their training to
become members of the city’s psychosocial support group. “They are ready to be deployed. They have completed the whole module of the Peer Support Group for the Youth of the Department of Health,” Dr. Ricky Ducas, head of the Baguio City Health Service Office’s Mental Health and Wellness unit, said in an interview on Thursday.

“We formed the group because of the need for more people who will help us handle the clients who seek our help.
They will also be going to the barangays (villages) to conduct lectures about mental health and wellness, especially
with the growing need based on the increasing number of clients seeking consultation.” Local government data show that 399 clients – 238 men and 161 women – have sought the help of the city’s mental health and wellness clinic in

In 2023, there were 333 clients, 215 were men and 118 were women. The most common issues being faced by these
individuals, aged 21 to 40, are depression, bipolar situations, schizophrenia, anxiety, neurological disorder, stress,
and substance abuse. Ducas said more than 200 of the patients are actively seeking consultation and returning to avail of the unit’s various services. “It is good that there are many who are seeking help because acceptance of the mental health situation is not easy.

The mere fact that they seek help, we are hopeful that we would keep them out of harm. We provide sessions where they can talk and support group members have the knowledge (of) how to handle them,” he said. The unit’s data also show that the number of deaths from suicide has continued to increase since 2019, making talk therapies – and the
psychosocial group – more important. It recorded 37 deaths from suicide in 2023, up from 21 in the previous year.

“We need to have more responders to call for a talk so that we can help, especially the susceptible members of society,” he said. Ducas said non-Baguio residents also contact the helplines. “When we answer calls, we do not ask where they are from because the mere fact that they called, that means we need to understand them regardless of who or where they are from,” he said.

(Liza Agoot/PNA)

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