DUMAGUETE CITY – More than 3 million people in the Philippines, mostly children and young adults up to 25 years old, are living with depression. Global statistics tell the same story. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 300 million people are battling this mental illness. With such alarming numbers, it comes as no surprise that WHO declared depression as the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

The challenge, then, is to become WARR;ORS! Notice the semi-colon? That is not an accident. In literature, the semi-colon means the statement is not over yet. This is why the semicolon is considered the symbol for fighting depression because YOUR STORY IS NOT OVER YET so keep on going!

Last week, the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Region 7 Alumni Community and the Paulinian Student Government partnered to organize a forum on depression for students all over the city. With over three hundred students participating, it truly was a fruitful discussion with resource person, Dr. Stephanie Eloisa D. Miaco. Here were some of the practical ways that the good doctor shared in order to stand up to mental health concerns:

S – Surround yourself with good people. Make plans with supportive family members and friends. Join a support group or a hobby club.

P – Participate in outreach activities. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need.

E – Exercise and eat well. Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health.

A – Always know you’re worth it. Treat yourself with kindness and respect. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

K – Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. These can only aggravate your situation.

O – Observe realistic goals. Aim high but be realistic and don’t over-schedule.

U – Understand what your stress factors are. Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills like tai chi, meditation, and a good sense of humor.

T – Take time to talk. Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness.

Let us all be WARR;ORS! SPEAKOUT and never cave in. Always remember: your story is not over yet.

Still feeling low? You may find it useful to speak to a doctor or the guidance counselor. People who get appropriate care can recover from depression and lead full, rewarding lives.

READ: CBCP pastoral exhortation: rejoice and be glad!