Tag Archives: Mandaluyong

Mental health in the Philippines

After more or less 28 years, the law that could provide affordable mental health services for Filipinos has been signed.

Referred to as the Mental Health Law, the Republic Act 11036 would secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, provide services for them even in barangays, improve mental healthcare facilities, and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.

It also aims to (1) provide psychiatric, neurologic and psychosocial services to the regional and other tertiary level hospitals, (2) add mental health service providers, and (3) introduce anti-stigma or anti-discrimination programs in schools and workplaces. Mental healthcare would not just be concentrated in urban areas anymore and would highlight the importance of research required to formulate and develop culturally-relevant national mental health programs.

The Mental Health Law has been signed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV, Paolo Bengino Aquino IV, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Joel Villanueva.

A Human Right

Before the Mental Health Law was legislated, there have been at least 16 other bills focusing on mental health.

Former senator Orlando Mercado was the first one to file an act about it in 1989. The next year, another version was filed by Senator Jose Lina. Then in 2000, Executive Order 470 was issued, creating a council for mental health attached to the Department of Health (DOH).

The Philippine Mental Health Policy came into being in 2001, signed by former health secretary Manuel M. Dayrit. But it was revised four years after over 4.5 million cases of depression had been reported.

The figures went down as a result but the cases of anxiety and alcoholism have gone up in the succeeding years. Suicide, too, which was “seriously contemplated” by Filipino students as young as 13 years old. By 2012, 2,558 Filipinos died by suicide (World Health Organization) and 1 in 5 Filipino adults has some form of mental illness (Department of Health).

The destruction wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) across the central Philippines—particularly in Marabut, Samar, Carles, and Estancia—led the government to scale up its community mental health programs and train city and municipal health officers in identifying mental health problems. It spearheaded the first public health convention on PWDs in order to improve their access to health and wellness services.

Then it signed an administrative order in 2016 for the nationwide implementation of its mental health program. It also created a national hotline for mental health assistance in 2017. That same year, the Senate passed the Senate Bill 1354 or the Mental Health Act of 2017 that enable affordable and accessible mental health services to Filipinos.

Globally, more than 300 million people are living with depression so, in the Philippines,  the DOH together with the WHO and the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation launched Hopeline, a 24-hour phone-based counseling service for individuals who suffer from that. Other organizations that are helping are the Youth for Mental Health Coalition, Incorporated, Silakbo PH, Isanliyab Servant Leaders’ Union, and Where There Is Hope (WTIH).

Mental health is important because all aspects of people’s lives is affected by it. Depression, suicidal ideation, and bipolar disorder are currently the most common mental health problems in the country, and one in every three Filipinos has a mental health problem1. There is only one psychiatrist for every 250,000 mentally ill patients, though, and the fund set aside for mental health is just five percent of the health department’s total annual budget2.

Furthermore, most of the mental health facilities and institutions are within the National Capital Region3. Most of the victims are overseas Filipino workers, residents of typhoon-prone areas, families that have abusive parents, and those that lived through disasters and violence.

With these in mind, The PWD Forum cannot but echo a Philippine senator’s hope for mental health in the country: that it will be eventually accepted as a genuine public concern that requires accessible medical care, consistent government support, and compassionate social understanding.

“Help is finally here. The Mental Health Law cements the government’s commitment to a more holistic approach to healthcare: without sound mental health there can be no genuine physical health.” ~ Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the GMA News

1This estimate was from a population survey conducted by the UP-Philippine General Hospital in Western Visayas more than 20 years ago. It was shared by Dr. Lourdes Ignacio, professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, during her lecture on “Reaching the unreached: Integrating mental health care in general health care” before national academicians and national scientists of the National Academy of Science and Technology.

2From the allotment, 95% goes to the maintenance of mental health institutions and personnel’s salary.

3They are the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong, Cavite Center for Mental Health in Trece Martires, Mariveles Mental Ward in Bataan, and psychiatric wards in the Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, and Metro Psychotherapy Facility.

Notes:

  1. Depression is a common and serious medical illness that can cause feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to suicidal ideation, which means thinking about or planning suicide.

Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, is an illness that causes unusual shifts in mood. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by failure to understand reality. Anxiety causes nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. All of them—depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety—can be treated through medication, counselling, and social rehabilitation.

  1. In rural areas: mental disorders are a result of other-worldly spirits or witchcraft.
  2. The state-run insurance firm, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) recently added mental illness under its coverage but for severe disorders and short- duration of confinement only.

Mandaluyong

Likened to a tiger by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center in 2002, Mandaluyong has been intense as well in caring for the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the city.

It has established an office—the Disabled Persons Affairs (DPAD) —in 1998. It has issued identification cards for free in 2009. It has led the latter to possible research-based programs through its accurate registry.

Within the department is a literacy program for PWDs, children or youth. Local legislations are thought of for the sector as well as workshops. A task force is also assigned to monitor the implementation of the Accessibility Law and the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and community-based programs are established to supports the different organizations of PWDs and caregivers.

Mandaluyong has sports and socio-cultural programs in place. It has the Mandaluyong Manpower and Development Center (MMDC), a small government institution that has become a “nationally competitive training center” to help PWDs realize their optimum potential. It has two training centers—in Barangay Hulo and in Welfareville Compound in Addition Hills—with 23 training facilitators and 26 support staff teaching casket making and carpentry.

To date, PWDs in the city have benefited from the DPAD programs. A summary of its projects and impact to the sector from 1997-2003 were recorded and four social welfare organizations have been opened even to those who are not residents of Mandaluyong. Among them are the Integrated Day Care Center, which is both for autistic and “normal” children ages 0-3 years old; the Sanctuary Center, which serves as a temporary shelter for recovered psychotics; the National Center for Mental Health and Social Service, which provides medical assistance to mentally ill patients; and the Jose Fabella Center, which serves male psychotics age 19-25 years old only.

Project TEACH (Therapy, Education and Assimilation of Children with Handicap) has been a leading initiative for children with disabilities (CWDs) here since September 2007. Its therapy center has been providing evaluation, diagnostic and regular therapy services. It would teach basic sign language to community workers and policemen so that they can communicate effectively with the deaf among them. Even the city’s private sector would help: it would cooperate with the city government to give free therapy to the CWDs.

Under the project, there would be the Mandaluyong CARES (Center for Alternative Rehabilitation and Education Services) and the Kitchen Specials (KS). They would be offering pre-vocational skills training programs to CWDs and supply public school canteens with “healthy, delicious, and affordable snacks” prepared by PWDs themselves, respectively.

But what excites me more is Mandaluyong’s initiative to share with other local government units (LGUs) the projects that have worked for the PWDs in it! Just recently, Wennah Marquez, officer-in-charge of Mandaluyong’s DPAD, trained the staff of other LGUs responsible for the disability issues in their own cities how to custom-fit wheelchairs for CWDs based on their physical constitution and nature and level of disability. Mandaluyong is not just giving them what it think they need, but is also making sure that the latter would be able to function as equals among ‘normals’!

“Expert studies show that given the same opportunities as others, children with disabilities can equally contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities.” ~UNICEF Philippines

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Juan Miguel Ala-Tolentino