How a reader’s daughter recovered from self-harm | Inquirer Business

How a reader’s daughter recovered from self-harm

Readers responded in various ways to our mental health series (May 11, 18, and 25, June 1, 2023). To those seeking personal consultations: I focus on my college and graduate students, plus family business clients at risk for depression, anxiety and other disorders, so I no longer do therapy for others. Our book “Lifeline” contains a list of professional groups, hospitals, hotlines and other resources that can help you.

To those asking for workshops on mental health: I tailor webinars for schools, parent groups, businesses, corporations, parishes, government and civic organizations based on need, including discussions of warning signs, risk factors, what (or what not) to say and do. Sometimes we role-play communication strategies. Due to the uncertain COVID-19 situation and my health issues, I do online seminars rather than onsite. Specify which aspects you are interested in: teenage depression and suicide; anxiety in the workplace; school phobias related to exclusion and bullying; conflict among and within generations and so on—and more importantly today, resilience and wellness at home, in school or in the workplace.

To those who shared accounts of mental illness: Thank you for your openness and I trust that your concerns have been addressed in our series. Seek help immediately. My favorite email came from FA, a mother who shares the following story:


“My daughter was jolly and was performing well in school. One time she slashed her wrists and I immediately brought her to a psychiatrist. She was given medicines that made her sleep, but after a few weeks she slashed herself again.


The psychiatrist instructed me to have her confined in a mental health facility. Feeling lost and scared, my husband and I brought her there, and she was confined for two weeks. When she was discharged, the psychiatrist advised us to transfer to another doctor. My daughter said that the facility did not help her. There were no therapeutic talks—all the staff did was to sedate them.

We were fortunate with our new psychiatrist [in a top private hospital]. She patiently gives therapeutic counseling and adjusts medicines based on the needs of the patient. My daughter is now a registered nutritionist and is performing well at work. She finished school and passed the board exams with the help of the people around her—her family, her psychiatrist, her friends.


Even if individuals are already taking medicines, thoughts of suicide will still be there, especially during crises. Parents have to be patient and vigilant. They need to check on their children physically (including signs of self-harm), emotionally and mentally. It is not easy for the patient and the parents. As her mother, it took me a lot of prayers to have the patience, understanding and strength to support my daughter. Taking care of loved ones with mental illness is difficult. You need to have good professionals to work with you. But our children can be productive members of society and fulfill their dreams and aspirations with our unwavering support.”

To FA: Thank you for sharing your daughter’s journey toward recovery, which will inspire troubled readers, especially parents. Your experience affirmed what our Ateneo study uncovered—that family, friends, therapists, faith are invaluable on the road to healing.

It is unfortunate that several mental health facilities focus only on one aspect—just sedatives and antidepressants, as you mentioned, without therapy—or just counseling, which may not work if medications are necessary to first stabilize moods. People in severe pain usually need both modes.

Effective therapy helps individuals manage emotions and deal with problems in mature ways, but I agree that symptoms often resurface when life becomes challenging. Unwavering support from those who care contributes to resilience and hope. God bless us all.

“Lifeline: A Layperson’s Guide to Helping People in Crises” is available on Lazada or Shopee.

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Queena N. Lee-Chua is on the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her print book “All in the Family Business” from Lazada or Shopee, or e-book from Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks. Contact the author at

TAGS: All in the Family, mental health

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