Voting a unanimous 19-0, the Senate has passed the third and final reading of the Mental Health Act of 2017, bringing mental health services one step closer to becoming affordable and accessible all over the Philippines through the public health system, reported Rappler.
Senate Bill No 1354, sponsored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, will develop and implement a National Mental Health Program; support the spread of mental health services down to barangay-level; protect the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs; and integrate mental health education in the school curriculum, among other benefits.
“This is a historic day for all of us,” said Sen. Hontiveros. “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.”
In 2012 alone, there were 2,558 cases of reported suicide cases among Filipinos, an average of seven suicide cases per day, according to the World Health Organization. The Department of Health says one in five Filipino adults suffer from some form of mental illness. Topping the list are depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
So, what does this mean for moms with postpartum depression? The bill states that psychiatric help shall be provided to those who ask for it in all regional, provincial and tertiary hospitals. Short-term care shall be given to those exhibiting acute or severe psychiatric symptoms.
In addition, partial care will be given to those exhibiting psychiatric symptoms or experiencing difficulties concerning their personal and family circumstances. Bottom line: support will be easier to find whatever degree the suffering and burden may be.
“Because of this measure, our people with mental health needs will no longer suffer silently in the dark. They will no longer endure an invisible illness and fight an invisible war,” added Sen. Hontiveros.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, principal author of the bill, expressed happiness in the bill’s quick passage and said in a statement, “It is about time that this nation will have a law to aid those suffering from mental health disorder.
“There is no time better than today to chart a national mental health policy for the country. The numbers on mental health problems are staggering, and we can no longer ignore this.”
Other co-authors of the bill include Senators Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Joel Villanueva.
Last year October, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial signed an administrative order on the nationwide implementation of a mental health program. Development of mental health facilities and the mental health program was allocated more than P1 billion in the department's 2017 budget.