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Dr. Meredith Labarda, NRCP Division III Associate Member, presents her study on mental health needs during the 16th KTOP Webinar.

A recent study funded by the National Research Council of the Philippines through its NRCP S&T Experts’ Pool (NSTEP) Project showed that the poor are more likely to suffer from mental illness as they have less access to resources especially during natural calamities.

Dr. Meredith Labarda, project leader and an NRCP Member from the Division of Medical Sciences, discussed her study in the recently concluded 16th Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemiya (KTOP) webinar by NRCP entitled “Assessing Mental Health Needs and Psychological Adjustments of Community-Dwelling Adults in The Context of Extended Pandemic Lockdown in Tacloban City” last March 22, 2022 via Zoom.

Her study showed that there were high cases of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and stress among urban poor adults in Tacloban City. The study also saw an increase in levels of unhealthy lifestyle behaviors as well as a lower sense of well-being. In her research, Dr. Labarda mentioned that the impact of natural disasters on mental health is well-studied, but there were little to no existing literature on the long-term mental effects by prolonged disasters such as a pandemic. She noted that the risk factors for mental health problems during a pandemic were an individual’s hospitalization history, remote location of residence, unemployment, lifestyle stressors, increased alcohol consumption, and lesser education.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of the respondents were female and the study had an average age of 41. It was also recommended in the study that healthier foods should be given to residents during relief activities as non-nutritious food will also affect their mental health. Participants in the study who showed severe mental health issues were referred to medical professionals.

NSTEP is a program that seeks to identify globally competitive Filipino RSEAs in the regions by allocating R&D funds for region-specific priority areas to make R&D spending more equitable in the country, while at the same time, developing local research capabilities. (Anton Santiago & Ledger Clemente, DOST-NRCP)