CONCERNED families and friends would always remind us to stay healthy.

Likewise, entertainment and online personalities and some major brands or established companies make it a point to remind us to stay healthy. But most of the time, what they usually refer to here is the physical health of a person.

When it comes to mental and emotional health, not many reminders are given to us.

And for some reason, mental health does not seem to be valued by many Filipinos in general. Most of the time, mental issues are being downplayed and usually seen as simply just a phase. Others would simply tell you to pray.

However, mental health problems are never superficial and do affect the person socially, physically, and emotionally. It is also a complex aspect of health that needs attention to.

We have seen the effects of mental health problems on many people. Sadly, because many downplay it, this had led to individuals harming themselves and others. Worse, some committed suicide.

Sadly, in the Philippines, we do not have advanced or well-equipped facilities to handle individuals who need psychological help. If we have, it is not as accessible as it should be.

For example, PhilHealth has a P7,800 coverage for mental health conditions. This would cover dementia, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. However, to avail of the benefit, you have to be confined at Level 1,2, or 3 hospitals. We believe, mental health benefits under PhilHealth must include outpatient treatment and consultations as well.

There is also the Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act, which seeks to improve the health sector's response to mental health. However, there seems to be not much talk or discussion about it.

It is also not easy to find a psychologist in the country that could help you with your mental health problems. You have to ask around to know whom you can seek treatment from.

But aside from health facilities, it is important for us as a community to also be able to uplift or help individuals who have mental health issues. If you have a friend or family member who has suicidal thoughts or showing signs of depression, extend compassion and see how you can help them. Some who have mental health issues, might just need someone to listen to them or a shoulder to cry on.

Let us value our mental health and those of others. And, let's stop downplaying mental health. It is a lot more serious than we think.