CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Philippine Mental Health Association Inc. (PMHA) on Monday raised the alarm over the “rising epidemic of mental health crisis” in the country.
The group, composed of mental health professionals and advocates, said the situation needs widespread awareness, support and action.
“We have noticed a sharp increase in mental health concerns during and after the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns,” PMHA president Dr. Cornelio Banaag Jr. said during a World Mental Health Day event in this city.
“Mental health-related issues affect Filipinos of all ages and backgrounds - young or old, rich or poor. It is a silent epidemic that we need to confront head-on,” he added.
In the Philippines, mental illness is becoming a common disability and at least 3.6 million Filipinos suffer from mental, neurological and substance use disorder, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The PMHA said access to mental health services in the country remains limited and unequal due to stigma and scarce resources.
There is also less than one mental health worker for every 100,000 Filipinos, it added.
PMHA urged a whole-of-society approach to address mental health concerns.
“Mental health is a universal human right,” Banaag said. “We need to make diagnosis, treatment, and care more accessible to the average Filipino.”
PMHA called for the stronger implementation of the Philippine Mental Health Act or Republic Act No. 11036, enactment of local mental health ordinances, more funding to expand mental health services, and a constant public awareness campaign.
“The mental health crisis in the Philippines requires a united effort from all sectors of society – local and national governments, private sector and the workplace, healthcare providers, communities, schools, and individuals,” Banaag said. “Everyone has a role to play to improve Filipinos’ mental wellness.” (PNA/PR)