mental health

Youth experienced decline in mental health during pandemic – UP study

Ryan Macasero
Youth experienced decline in mental health during pandemic – UP study


Only one in 10 of Filipino adults are aware of any suicide prevention program or service

Trigger warning: suicide

Young Filipinos experienced a dramatic decline in their mental wellbeing, according to the 2021 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFSS) of the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI), which it presented on Friday, October 14.

The number of young Filipinos who often felt loneliness, sadness, and being disliked by other people almost doubled between 2013 and 2021, the study found.

About 10,949 randomly selected youth aged 15 to 24 from over 900 randomly selected barangays in the country participated in the comprehensive 2021 study. 

The study pegs the number of Filipino youth who said they attempted ending their life in 2013 at 574,000 or 3%. 

In 2021, that number increased to 7.5%, or about 1.5 million youth.

Percent of youth who, in the past week, “often” felt the depressive symptoms from the Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression (CES-D) Scale: 2013 and 2021

According to the study, about six in 10 youth who experienced symptoms of depression did not reach out to anyone for help. 

Of those who did seek help, even fewer went to professionals for help.

Most Filipino youth sought help from close friends or peers, about 25% of those who considered ending their life. This was followed by parents/guardians at 7%, and other relatives at 5%.

According to UPPI’s study, only one in 10 are aware of any suicide prevention program or service. 

Percent of youth who have ever thought of committing suicide: 2002-2021

“Incidentally, data collection for YAFS5 was conducted in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, whereby physical and social isolation may have gravely affected young people’s disposition,” UPPI said in a statement. 

“These alarming findings indicate that today’s youth have poorer mental well-being than in the last few decades. The reasons for this are many and complex, but as it is, multiple challenges, including severe understaffing, the cost of consultation and treatment, and the stigmatization  of mental health problems confront mental healthcare in the country,” they added.

In the beginning part of the pandemic from 2020 to 2021, many students had already been taking classes remotely in prolonged periods of isolation and were subject to strict curfews.

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Fewer Filipino youth drinking, smoking – UP study

Fewer Filipino youth drinking, smoking – UP study

While mental health among youth may have declined, the same study found that fewer of them were turning to drinking or smoking in 2021. With regard to sexual health, HIV/AIDS awareness dropped.

The full study will be released in early 2023. –

For those seeking help with mental health issues, check out the Philippines #MentalHealthPH and the Natasha Golbourn Foundation.  

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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at