The Youth for Mental Health Coalition, a group of advocates for young people’s mental health, expressed its ‘grave’ dismay over statements of Eat Bulaga host Joey De Leon that depression is just made up by people.
Y4MH said that the TV host’s claims are “misinformed and present potentially dangerous ideas to the general public.”
“There is nothing hilarious about suffering. Nothing comical about suicide rates. There is nothing funny about being left in the dark,” the group added.
“The sad truth is that these same ideas may be shared not uncommonly by people around us – extending the struggle to providing a new perspective to people who view depression through uninformed lenses,” it added.
During the show’s airing yesterday, De Leon made the statements when sugod-bahay winner Maria Cristina said her mother was suffering from depression.
“Ang sabi lang po nung doktor, depression, tapos ‘yung katandaan kasi makakalimutin na po [The doctor simply said that it was depression and old-age because she’s forgetful],” Maria Christina said.
De Leon commented, “Yung depression, gawa-gawa lang ng mga tao iyan. Gawa nila sa sarili nila [Depression is just made up by people. They did it to themselves]).”
Co-host Maine Mendoza came on the contestant’s defense, saying depression is not something that should be a subject of a joke.
“Depression is not trivial. It is not a joke,” Mendoza said in Filipino.
“It is not a joke because a lot of people experience it, especially the youth. So if someone is going through it, we need to give them support,” she added.
Drawing flak from the netizens, De Leon apologized and said his family explained to him the gravity of his dismissal of the mental illness.
“Nagkamali po ako. Pinagalitan ako ng misis ko. Pinaliwanang nya at ng mga anak namin (I was wrong. My wife scolded me. She and my children explained the condition to me),” De Leon said during the airing of the noontime show on Friday.
De Leon added that he was embarrassed of his “insensitive” and “ignorant” remarks.
“Ako’y humihingi ng paumanhin sa mga napaitan sa mga nabanggit ko, at humihingi ng inyong pang-unawa (I apologize to those who were offended by my statements and I am asking for your understanding),” he added.
Meanwhile, Y4MH called for heightened public awareness on mental health, urging the youth to participate in discussing mental health concepts in communities.
“A public acknowledgement of mistake is welcome but a changed mindset on mental illness would be the best form of apology,” the group said.
Furthermore, Y4MH invited de Leon to an educational discussion to shed light on mental health issues.