Celebs raise awareness for mental health problems

Anna Mogato

Posted at Jul 08 2016 12:00 AM

MANILA - Apparently, it isn't as fun in the Philippines as most people thought. 

In a video by the Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA), several celebrities took part of a campaign petitioning for the passage of the country's first-ever Mental Health Act (MH), which has been delayed for 15 years. 

From veteran actors such as Ian Veneracion and Angel Aquino to young stars like Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Lauren Young, a host of local personalities have called for the end to the stigma surrounding mental health. 

According to the PPA, there are only five psychiatrists for every 10 million Filipinos in the country, and local health insurances do not cover mental health-related concerns. 

Like suicide, statistics on mental health are often under reported as it is treated as taboo, the PPA furthered. 

The MH Act was initiated by the PPA to "protect the rights of people with mental disorders and/or disabilities by putting in place an official body that will oversee the policies and programs that need to be developed to prevent and treat mental illnesses, and to promote the mental health of Filipinos." 

And while there is a policy in place, the Philippines remains to be one of the few countries with no laws tackling mental health problems. 

Despite a 41% increase in the Department of Health's budget in 2016, there is still little support given to mental health facilities and operations, receiving only five percent at present. Discussions on the budget allocation in 2015 also failed to mention mental health. 

As of February, the petition to have the MH Act passed has gathered nearly 6,000 signatures. Once it reaches 200,000 signatures, the petition will be delivered to the Philippine legislators.