DOH, advocates hope mental health bill would soon be signed into law

By Leilani Junio

November 22, 2017, 11:49 am

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) and mental health advocates have expressed hope that the recent approval of the Comprehensive Mental Health bill by the House of Representatives would pave the way for its immediate signing into law.

"We welcome this development as it shows that legislators also put mental health as among their priorities, just like the DOH. We really hope that the bill would be finalized and passed as soon as possible," DOH spokesperson, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, said Tuesday. 

Lee Suy said that the measure would strengthen the department’s existing mental health programs.

Mental Health Alliance (MHA) Co-Convener Dr. Gia Sison likewise said they are hoping that the bill would be signed into law before the Christmas break.

"We are hoping that after the bicameral conference committee, it would be signed into law by the President," said Sison.

"Truly, help will be on its way for those Filipinos who are suffering. Mental health concerns are real, and this bill will usher in real solutions," she added.

Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA) official, Dr. June Lopez, said they also want to see a swift approval of the measure.

"The passage of the bill into law will seal the government’s commitment to promote mental health services to Filipinos who need it,” said Lopez.

The House on Monday approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 6452, which seeks to promote mental wellness, prevent the progress of mental health problems through intervention, and properly address mental disorders.

The Senate had already passed its own version of the measure last May. Senate Bill No. 1354 or the Mental Health Act 2017, seeks to establish a national mental health policy to enhance the delivery of integrated mental health services. It also aims to promote and protect persons utilizing psychiatric, neurologic and psychosocial health services, through the appropriation of funds.

After a bicameral conference committee reconciles the differences between the House and Senate versions, the consolidated bill will be forwarded to the Office of the President for signing into law. (PNA)