Mental Health Act will remove stigma vs people with depression — senators | Inquirer News

Mental Health Act will remove stigma vs people with depression — senators

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 03:54 PM June 21, 2018

The newly-signed Mental Health Act will help remove the social stigma against people with depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and other mental health conditions, senators said on Thursday.

“Help is on the way. We thank the President for supporting the passage of the Mental Health Law which would provide access to affordable mental health care for every Filipino,” Senator Joel Villanueva, one of the authors of the bill in the Senate, said in a statement.

“By making the mental health care accessible down to the barangays and promoting mental health education in schools and workplaces, this important piece of legislation would give awareness regarding mental health and remove social stigma against people with suicidal tendencies,” Villanueva said.


Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, meanwhile, called for the immediate implementation of the law.


“Now that the Philippine Mental Health Law is in place. I urge the Department of Health for its immediate implementation to the letter,” said Sotto, the principal author of the measure.

Data on suicide cases

Villanueva cited various data showing the prevalence of suicide cases particularly in the Philippines.

A 2014 global report on preventing suicide by the World Health Organization, for instance, indicated that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 15 to 29 years of age across the globe.

In the Philippines, according to the report, the estimated number of suicides in 2012 was 2,558.

“Suicide is a public health issue that has not yet been given adequate attention for years. This problem may have affected someone we know, a member of our family, or within our circle of friends,” Villanueva said.


“We hope that we can save someone’s precious life by the immediate implementation of this landmark law,” he added.

Stigma of mental illness

Senator Sonny Angara, another author of the measure, also expressed hope that the law would help Filipinos overcome the stigma of mental illness.

“With the Mental Health Law, we can now paint a clearer picture of a Philippines where every citizen is able to maintain a stable emotional balance to handle daily tasks,” Angara said in a separate statement.

“We hope that this law will help Filipinos overcome the stigma of mental illness, and enable them to seek professional help. This law gives people with mental health problems and their families the opportunity to hope for better lives,” he further said.

Angara said the law aims to provide basic mental health services down to the barangay level by mandating the Department of Health (DOH) to provide psychiatric services to all regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals, while increasing the capacities of mental health professionals.

PhilHealth insurance

Under the Mental Health Act, he said, PhilHealth must “ensure that insurance packages equivalent to those covering physical disorders of comparable impact are available to patients affected by mental disorders.”

“Currently, PhilHealth only covers hospitalization brought about by acute attacks of mental and behavioral disorders at a package rate of P7,800. We hope that in the drafting of the IRR , free psychiatric consultations and medicines shall be made available for all Filipinos,” said Angara.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian shared his colleagues’ confidence that the newly-enacted law would help remove the “unfortunate social stigma” against people with mental problems.

“With the approval Republic Act No. 11036, the Philippine Mental Health Law, the government is signaling that it is time to change how Philippine society views mental illness,” Gatchalian said in another statement.

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“I am hopeful that this law will cause the unfortunate social stigma surrounding depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions to fade away, so that eventually our society as a whole will come to accept mental illness for what it really is – a genuine public health issue that requires accessible medical care, consistent government support, and compassionate social understanding.”  /vvp

TAGS: Senate

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