Erlinda Borromeo, Autism Speaks Foundation president, said one in 68 children worldwide has autism. The figure is way above the .5 cases in every 1,000 children in the 1980s and one in 110 children in 2008.
In the Philippines, estimated cases of autism rose from 500,000 in 2008 to one million people at present.
Autism is a developmental disorder with a range of difficulties in social, emotional and communication skills, which occurs in all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups. It is more common among boys (1 in 42) than girls (1 in 189).
One in every 800 babies born has Down syndrome or around 1,875 cases a year in the Philippines in a population of 1.5-million live births.
This was revealed by the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc. (DSAPI) saying that more than 100,000 families in the country are living with a person with Down syndrome.
The National Center for Mental Health’s statistics project suicide rates of 2.5 for men and 1.7 for women per 100,000 members of the population. These numbers do not include unreported cases. According to a 2014 report of the World Health Organization, there were 2,558 cases of suicide due to mental health problems in the Philippines in the year 2012 alone. As a public health concern, mental illness hits the most vulnerable sectors of society — the young and the poor.
Living within a culture that emphasizes resilience and humor amidst pain and personal suffering makes it all the more difficult to talk about mental illness out in the open. The stigma surrounding mental illness only adds to the layers of struggle of people who suffer from various mental health conditions.