Worldmentalhealthday, Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness, Mental Health Law İn The Philippines

Worldmentalhealthday, Mental Health

Is the Philippines ready to address mental health?

With an increase in mental illnesses and suicide cases among the youth, experts say everyone has a crucial role to play in fostering mental wellness

10/10/2019 6:14:00 AM

With an increase in mental illnesses and suicide cases among the youth, experts say everyone has a crucial role to play in fostering mental wellness. WorldMentalHealthDay

With an increase in mental illnesses and suicide cases among the youth, experts say everyone has a crucial role to play in fostering mental wellness

the landmark bill in June 2018. The Philippines was one of the last few countries in the world without a mental health law, though several bills were proposed as early as the 1980s.But apart from the nearly 30 years it took to become law, Republic Act 11036 is praised for being the first legislation to recognize the fundamental right of all Filipinos to mental health services.

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“(The) Mental Health Law would aim to bring mental health closer to the everyday lives of the youth,” said Dr Constantine Chua, chief resident of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.Crucial parts of the law include the government’s responsibility in promoting the well-being of people, which would be done by ensuring the value, promotion, and protection of mental health.

ACCESS. The Mental Health Act will ensure access and delivery to mental health services.According to experts, this is important as it can lessen the stigma around mental health and ensure the access and delivery of mental health services to every Filipino.

The law also aims to ensure that delivery of, and access to psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services happens in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals.Apart from this, the law also supports the presence of mental health services embedded in school systems and the teaching of mental health in all education levels.

Another salient feature of the law shifts focus of care to the community. For Nadera, this is crucial as this is where “true recovery happens.”Successful implementationBut how exactly will we be able to gauge the law's success once it is fully implemented?

Ideally, the offshoot would be thepresence of mental health services at the primary health care setting such as in barangay health stations and not just hospitals, Chua said.Adequate training of teachers and officials in mental health knowledge as well as mental health programs should also be required in schools and the workplace.

"Our general practitioners, doctors, nurses, teachers being taught the mental health dimensions of their work adequately...those are measures or goals of the mental health law and when we achieve those things, the mental health law is doing its purpose," Chua said.

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Mental health advocates also hope that with the implementation of the mental health law, more people would be enticed to become practicing psychiatrists. Currently there are roughly only 600 in the whole country for a population of nearly 100 million.

According to Nadera, success would also meanless reports of violence or human rights violations against persons with mental health problems. Mental heath policies and services should also be made available to vulnerable sectors. These include Filipinos working abroad in maritime and service industries, as well as those who are victims of disasters.

WELLNESS. Mental health also means having the best cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social state.Not just doctorsWith limited capacity to tackle mental health fully, experts said fighting the rise in mental illnesses and suicide cases among the youth will need to be taken up by everyone. (

READ: [OPINYON] Kasama tayo sa laban para sa mental health)The shared exposure to mental disorders puts everyone at risk. This will mean each will have a role to play in trying to boost preventive efforts against developing mental illnesses.“Mental health is not just the role of doctors or clinical psychologists…. The whole community will really play a role”

- Dr Constantine Chua, chief resident of the PGH Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine“When we say mental health, it’s not really just having or not having a psychiatric diagnosis but it’s enjoying the best cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social state in which you can have a fulfilling life and a community,” Chua said.

For youth and adults alike, experts suggest fostering a healthy lifestyle that allots time for rest and leisure. It also means having balanced self-expectations, learning how to ask for help, and making the effort to stay connected with other people.“Having healthy and meaningful relationships…where you are accepted by people, where you are listened to is actually the best protective factor,” Chua said.

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Balderrama likewise agreed that having healthy relationships is good as these provide crucial support systems for those with mental health disorders.Parents and teachers, for their part, should also focus onpreventive efforts– such as being equipped with knowledge about mental health – as this could strengthen children and prevent them from developing full-blown mental disorders.

“Mental health is not just the role of doctors or clinical psychologists….The whole community will really play a role – that includes the family, the teachers, the students themselves,” Chua said.– Read more: Rappler »

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