BAGUIO CITY: A bill seeking the creation of a Philippine Mental Health Council and a National Mental Health Care Delivery System was filed by Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat Jr. at the House of Representatives.
The proposed law seeks to protect mental health patients and improve mental health services in the country.
“The state of our mental health facilities is dire and we lack a coherent program. The need to immediately provide these is more pronounced now when we are in the middle of a drug ‘war.’ The reintegration of alleged drug addicts into society will also require [the appropriate]mental health support system,” Baguilat said.
“I believe that drug addiction is one among many mental health issues and a holistic campaign against drug use will need adequate facilities and programs to address the mental health needs of addicts. What we have right now is far from enough,” he added.
Baguilat, citing data from the Department of Health, said in the introduction to the bill that almost one out of every 100 households has a member with mental disability.
And as early as 2003, self-inflicted injuries were found to be the ninth leading cause of death among Filipinos 20-24 years old.
The incidence of suicide in males increased from 0.23 to 3.59 for every 100,000 between 1984 and 2005, Baguilat said, while suicide rates rose from 0.12 to 1.09 for every 100,000 females.
Additionally, the lawmaker noted that individuals with chronic mental illness, children of overseas Filipino workers and those in areas of armed conflict have higher risk of developing mental health problems.
“Then there is the serious problem of the lack of qualified personnel,” he said.
The proposed bill also cited that there are only 490 psychiatrists and 1,000 nurses working in the psychiatric care sector, and even fewer general practitioners trained in early assessment and management of common mental health problems in the community.
“The number of addiction specialists, psychologists, occupational therapists, guidance counselors and social workers is extremely inadequate to meet the mental health needs of 100 million Filipinos,” the lawmaker said.
Statistics also show that there are only two state-run mental hospitals, 46 outpatient facilities, four-day treatment facilities, 19 community-based psychiatric inpatient facilities and 15 community residential (custodial home-care) facilities in the whole country.
Furthermore, almost all mental health facilities are in the major cities and the only mental hospital in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) has only 4,200 beds.
Thus, Baguilat said the bill seeks to integrate mental health services into the national health system to meet the needs of those who hardly have access to readily available, affordable and equitable mental health care, especially the poor.
The proposal, among others, seeks to create the Philippine Council for Mental Health as an attached agency of the Department of Health to provide a rational and unified response to mental health concerns.
Under the bills’s provisions, this will be accomplished through the formulation and implementation of the National Mental Health Care Delivery System, Baguilat said.