Senate OKs mental health bill
(Updated, 4:59 p.m.) The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill that would protect, among others, the rights of individuals suffering from mental health condition.
Nineteen senators unanimously approved on Tuesday Senate Bill No. 1354 or the Philippine Mental Health Act of 2017.
“This is an historic day for all of us,” Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, who sponsored the measure, said in a statement shortly after its approval.
“After being one of the few countries left without a mental health policy, we are now one step closer to realizing a national mental health law to comprehensively address the Filipinos’ mental health needs and ensure that our rights as persons with mental health needs are protected and secured,” Hontiveros said.
The bill, she said, seeks to integrate mental health services and programs in the public health system.
It also mandates the government to put up basic mental health services at the community level and psychiatric, psychosocial and neurologic services in all regional, provincial and tertiary hospitals, Hontiveros said.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, principal author of the bill, hailed the quick passage of the measure,
“I am very pleased [with] the quick passage of mental health bill in the Senate. It is about time that this nation will have a law to aid those suffering from mental health disorder,” Sotto said in a separate statement.
The bill was also co-authored by Senators Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes, Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara, and Joel Villanueva.
Hontiveros said the passage of the measure was a “giant step forward towards a more progressive and stronger system for ensuring the mental health and well-being of not only of those suffering from mental health conditions but of all Filipinos.”
“Through the Mental Health Act, we will have stronger mechanisms to ensure the protection of rights of individuals suffering from mental health conditions,” she said on the floor.
“Sa lahat ng hindi makatarungang sinabihan ng sira-ulo, lukaret maluwag ang turnilyo, may sayad, baliw, abnormal, may topak, emo, praning sinto-sinto at buang dahil sa maling pang-unawa sa issues sa mental health— para po sa inyo ang batas na ito,” the lady senator added.
(To all those who have been called crazy and other names because of misconceptions on issues on mental health, this law is for you.)
She urged her colleagues in the House of Representatives to hasten the passage of the same measure.
Mental health advocates led by Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, Antoinette Taus and Jerika Ejercito attended the Senate session and lauded the passage of the bill. IDL/rga
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