MANILA -- Filipinos may now have access to basic mental health services at the community level with the signing of implementing rules and regulations of the mental health law.
Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III signed on Tuesday the IRR of Republic Act 11036 (Mental Health Law) which he said would end the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
"Papalawigin natin ang basic mental health services sa mga community level, mga psychiatric at psychosocial services sa mga DOH (Department of Health) medical centers at iba pang tertiary hospitals, harmonization of protocols and operating manuals sa pagbibigay ng mental health services, psychiatric abuse neurological services na ang mga ospital ay dapat mayroon nang kapasidad na ibigay ang mga ito para matugunan iyong problema sa access dahil konti lamang ang mga hospitals nating nagbibigay ng (We will broaden mental health services in the community level, psychiatric and psychosocial services in DOH-retained medical centers and other tertiary hospitals, harmonization of protocols and operating manuals in giving mental health services, psychiatric abuse neurological services that the hospitals must have the capacity to address access problem because there are only a few hospitals providing) mental health services," he said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
The Mental Health Law, signed in 2018, provides basic mental health services down to the barangay level and increases the capacities of mental health professionals.
Duque said the number of cases of patients with mental health problems is increasing. He identified the causes as both economic and social in nature like poverty, malnutrition, peer pressure and emotional trauma.
About 3.5 million Filipinos, or roughly 4 percent of the population, have mental health problems, he said.
"Pero hindi lahat ng iyan ay kailangan ng ospital kaya nga ang outpatient services ay palalawigin din natin kaya nga ang ating mental health packages na pwedeng pondohan ng PhilHealth para mabenipisyuhan ang mga (Not all of the cases need hospitals so the outpatient services will extend our mental health packages that will be funded by PhilHealth to benefit) families with members with mental health problems," he said.
Talking about mental health creates stigma among Filipinos but it is high time to consider it a serious issue, Duque said.
“The goal is to start the conversation. It is high time that we talk about mental health as a serious issue. It is time that we bring mental illness out of its shadows and into the light. It is time that we put an end to the stigma surrounding mental illness,” he said.
"This is important because we want to send a message to those living with mental illness that you are not alone. We want to support you. There is hope. Recovery is possible. There is no shame in talking about your condition and getting help," he added.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 100 million people suffer from mental health disorders in the Western Pacific region. (PNA)