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Legarda Hails Enactment of Mental Health Act

June 22, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the President’s signing into law of the Mental Health Act (Republic Act No. 11036), which seeks to provide affordable and accessible mental health services for Filipinos suffering from mental disabilities.

Legarda, co-author of the measure, said that a law dedicated to enhancing the delivery of mental health services to the people is an integral part of the Philippine health care system given the growing number of mental disabilities left untreated due to lack of facilities as well as physicians who are trained to specialize in the treatment of these mental conditions.

“Mental health is one aspect in the society that is not given utmost attention. With various societal issues that we are facing, we sometimes neglect to prioritize the mental health of every citizen of this nation without us knowing its effects on people’s day-to-day performance on education, employment, physical health and even relationships,” Legarda said.

“Adding to the woes of those who are suffering from mental health illnesses is the shortage of qualified mental health professionals as well as the stigma being associated with it. This mental health intervention would usher in a new chapter in mental health care policy and service delivery in the Philippines as it would integrate mental health in all health services and policy initiatives,” Legarda added.

Legarda noted that many of the health problems we encounter arise from mental conditions. Common symptoms of mental health problems may start from fatigue, abdominal pain, and back pain for which they don’t find a cause. The Senator further stressed that there is a need to understand what drives these symptoms so that appropriate care and treatment will immediately be provided

“If we will be able to identify patients’ psychosocial stressors and common mental and behavioral conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance use, we can also understand what they are going through and we can provide them with care and treatment that they needed,” Legarda said.

Moreover, Legarda noted that in 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 2,558 cases of Filipino committing suicide, averaging to 7 cases per day. Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that one in 5 Filipino adults suffers from mental illness, such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety.

“With these statistics, it is indeed high time for the government to promote mental health awareness and support the effective implementation of the law to ensure that no one suffers from the dreaded impacts of mental disorder to the lives of every Filipino,” Legarda said.