THE Department of Health (DOH) discussed Friday the ongoing studies on the possible link of social media to depression, citing cyber bullying and online bashing as being the "new face of depression."

In a press conference on Friday, DOH spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag said there are ongoing studies that link social media use with depression, especially among teens.

"The new face of depression on social media is bashing. Some people have difficulty coping with bashing. We want to protect them, especially adolescents, because they are vulnerable. Social media is a big contributor now and it is now being studied by experts if social media indeed contributes to depression," said Tayag.

He noted how local and international academic institutions are already looking into the effect of online bashing on the moods and habits of users of social media platforms.

"There are already some studies that already say so, but we also have to put these findings in the local context," said Tayag.

Based on the data of the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 3,298,652 people who are living with depression in the Philippines.

Proof of this is that the number one reason cited for the public in calling the DOH's mental health crisis hotline, Hopeline, is depression, with 605 out of the total 3,479 calls received in 2016.

There are also 496 inquiries on depression and 479 possible depression cases.

Other top reasons for Hopeline calls are relationship problems (199), anxiety (161) and family problem (108).

Because of this, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial called on the public to be more caring to their family members, school mates, officemates, friends, and relatives.

She said there is need to pay more attention to their loved ones who are already showing tell-tale signs of depression, such as not being able to go on with their daily activities.

"It is incumbent upon us, as a relative, friend, co-worker, to really be aware of the people around us and to support them in their times of need. That's human nature. Hindi yung deadma lang tayo," said Ubial.

Failure to do so, she said, will just be a continuation of the long-standing problem of stigma and discrimination.

"That, I think, is a society that will harbor increasing rates of depression, when we do not pay attention to our friend and we create isolation from them," said Ubial. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)