Church official seeks stronger action on looming mental health ‘pandemic’

February 15, 2021 - 1:24 PM
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Mental health must be part of COVID-19 response because it is another ‘pandemic’ looming over us all, a Catholic official said Thursday.

Camillian Father Dan Cancino said the effects of COVID-19 are here to stay, including in the brain, “so we have to act to contain it”.

“This is another pandemic aside from COVID-19,” said Cancino, executive secretary of the bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Health Care.

The priest was speaking during a virtual press conference for the national celebration of the World Day of Sick hosted by the Diocese of Naval.

Cancino stressed the importance of mental health as COVID-19 restrictions lead many to feel isolated.

“Mental health issues and problems would be another pandemic if we’ll not be together in helping our brothers and sisters,” he said.

Even before the pandemic, the ECHC have been giving online courses and train parish-based volunteers to be “online accompanist” for mental health issues.

Bishop Rex Ramirez of Naval, ECHC chairman, also emphasized the significant role of the family, the church and the broader community in dealing with the issue.

In his diocese, he said that a group composed of parents and young people is being organized for a mental health training program.

“It seems that the youth are the most affected by these issues coming from the pandemic,” Ramirez said.

“We hope that this will be sustained and something that they can go on with not only for this time but in the years to come,” he said.