Personalities weigh in on mental health after controversial Joey de Leon comments

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 6) — Noontime variety  show host Joey de Leon's comments on depression triggered a storm of online criticism — but this time, celebrities are also weighing in.

De Leon was criticized on Thursday for saying on 'Eat Bulaga' that those with depression were only pretending. The comment was made from the studio as other hosts visited the house of a contestant who said she had the condition.

Related: Netizens call out Joey de Leon for remark on depression, Maine Mendoza praised

Co-host Maine Mendoza, on the other hand, was praised for her remarks that depression was not a joke and those suffering from it needed support.

Alden Richards, also an 'Eat Bulaga' co-host and the other half to a love team with Mendoza, agreed those with depression needed moral support. On Thursday, he revealed on social media his own experience of living with someone who had depression.


On Thursday morning, another co-host, Ryan Agoncillo, also broke his silence. In an Instagram post, he also revealed he experienced depression and called the segment with de Leon "a very painful and familiar exchange."

He added that the mental illness "cuts across the board" and "knows no age, gender, religion, civil or economic status."

Good morning. I hope all is well with you and your family. Like you, I’m all too aware of how real depression is. Having had to deal with it for a long time now, having lost friends, heroes and even myself to its depths, i know when it rears it’s ugly head, signs aren’t instant but more like quicksand. I know it cuts across the board, it knows no age, gender, religion, civil or economic status. what unfolded yesterday was a very painful and familiar exchange. I’ve heard it at the dinner table, in the car on the way to school and at the office cafeteria, everywhere. the ferocity with which the reaction was released was what made me pay close attention though. instead of the tv instincts kicking in for a quick draw reaction, i knew i had to remain quiet and not add to the noise. because it is this very noise that pushes the quiet ones further into a corner. it is good we have this avenue for expression, let’s continue to do so. it is healthier, thank you for this. mahigpit na yakap para sa iyo at sa mga tahimik.

A post shared by Ryan Agoncillo (@ryan_agoncillo) on


Without dropping names, Agoncillo said that he paid "close attention" to the way the issue was discussed on the segment, but chose not to speak up then for fear of inadvertently alienating those with depression through fighting on air.

"Instead of the TV instincts kicking in for a quick draw reaction, I knew I had to remain quiet and not add to the noise, because it is this very noise that pushes the quiet ones further into a corner," said Agoncillo.

He then offered a virtual hug to those who were "quiet," and encouraged healthier discussion on mental health.

De Leon has since apologized for his remarks.

Related: Comedian Joey de Leon apologizes for depression remark

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 86 million of the world's 300 million people with depression come from Southeast Asia.

Other celebs react

Other celebrities also reiterated Mendoza's sentiment that depression is a sensitive topic. Miss Philippines International 2017 Mariel de Leon, 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten star Khalil Ramos, and GMA talent Lauren Young were some of those who called out de Leon.




In a follow-up tweet, Ramos also provided a link to a video explaining depression, imploring his followers to "research and share."

Young called out de Leon, saying he should not mock "things you obviously have no idea about." She added, "Depression is not another joke for your noon time show."



"Baka Bukas" lead and "I'm Drunk, I Love You" supporting actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith also agreed.

"Be Careful with My Heart" and "Pangako Sa 'Yo" star Jodi Sta. Maria also seemed to tweet about the issue, saying that one should "never ever mock a pain you haven't endured."



Meanwhile, host and model Bianca Gonzalez said it was good thing that mental health was gaining traction in public consciousness.

Sugarfree frontman Ebe Dancel also revealed on Twitter that he had also experienced depression, saying that he prays for those who do not understand it.

In a series of tweets, he called on others to "be strong and stay strong." He also said, "I've been living with it for a while now, and I'm still standing."

"My doctor once told me, it's like a fever. Something's wrong with your body, so take your meds. I believe her. I'm better because of her," Dancel wrote.

"I'm no expert at it, but depression is a clinical condition. And with help, you can, you WILL get better. It's ok to seek help [and] not be alone," he added.


Actress and WHO mental health advocate Antoinette Taus also spoke about her experience with the condition.

Speaking during interviews with CNN Philippines anchor and correspondent Pinky Webb on Balitaan and Facebook Live, Taus encouraged those who saw symptoms of depression to see a professional.

"It's not a weakness," said Taus, adding that mental health is as important as physical health.


Taus also cited examples of those who overcame depression.

"What this shows is, even from your darkest moments, that's when you can actually find your path towards the greatest light, inspiration of your life," she added.

'Be kind'

On the other hand, "100 Tula Para Kay Stella" lead actress Bela Padilla appealed to netizens to "be kind" in their criticism.

In a series of tweets, Padilla said that while she was also hurt by his statements, she added there was a way to call him out "without driving him to depression as well." She added, "Your negativity will hurt you more than him."



Her tweets drew mixed reactions from netizens, one of whom said her comments were "misdirected."

In response to flak, Padilla wrote: "I will not ever be sorry for trying to promote peace and kindness. Di ko gets [I don't get] why we can't both be right."

"Speaking harshly because you want us to think that's the norm and the only way to 'fight back' can affect us too," she added.

Padilla is also the scriptwriter of Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga's reunion movie "Last Night," which garnered mixed reviews for its portrayal of suicide.

Legislators react

Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon noted that it was "ironic" the comments were made as Congress is poised to pass a law on mental health.


Mental health bill author Sen. Risa Hontiveros added on Friday that depression is "not a self-inflicted invention." She expressed appreciation for De Leon's apology and invited him to help raise awareness on the issue.


De Leon's remarks coincide with the celebration of Depression Awareness Month this October.