MANILA – Malacañang is urging relevant government agencies to check the state of Filipinos’ mental health after a Filipina cruise ship worker committed suicide.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. bared that 28-year-old Mariah Jocson, a cruise ship worker for Harmony of the Seas, killed herself after learning that repatriation flights have been suspended again.

“The Palace is saddened by the unfortunate death of a seafarer on board the Harmony of the Seas for repatriation,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Roque enjoined concerned agencies to provide psychosocial support services to Filipinos experiencing mental health issues.

“We ask relevant agencies of the government to look into mental anguish of those adversely impacted by the Covid-19,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of ensuring that the mental health of all citizens is not compromised amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The worldwide pandemic is taking an emotional toll on everyone and we must help our countrymen how to cope with stress, fear and worry in this challenging time,” he said.

He also assured that the government is looking for ways to expedite the return of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) across the world.

At least 50,000 OFWs have returned to the Philippines due to job loss since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier, Roque said the government has put in place “remedial measures” to ensure that all OFWs will be sent to their respective hometowns immediately, if possible, within 72 hours.

He said the government has opened more gateways, such as the Clark International Airport, to welcome repatriated OFWs; allowed recruitment and manning agencies to choose the lab they want to process polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing; and utilized labs outside of Metro Manila.

Government authorities said some 300,000 OFWs are expected to arrive in the next few months.

The National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) reported a spike in the number of Filipinos facing mental health issues due to the pandemic, receiving an average of 30 to 35 calls daily from March to May 2020 compared to 13 to 15 calls daily from May 2019 to February 2020.

Those with mental health concerns may reach the NCMH through its 47/7 hotline numbers: 09178988727 (mobile) and 02-7-989-8727 (landline). (PNA)

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