Why the Philippines needs a mental health law

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 12 2018 12:18 AM

Having a national law on mental health will be a big help for those suffering from depression and other mental health issues, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros. 

For Hontiveros, the principal author of the mental health bill, continuous research on the issue has helped the Department of Health in addressing the issue pending the passing of a law.

"The advocates have been drafting this bill and re-drafting it and re-filing it, congress after congress within the past 2 decades. And so have refined it further and further. Nasabayan pa nung continuous research about this phenomenon in order to build database to enable the Department of Health now to really provide psychiatric, neurological and psychosocial services down the line up to the grassroots level with different sectors of mental health and in general health service providers," she said.

"During all this time when we were not yet successful in passing a national law, there were also locally-based, community-based mental health programs that were put into action by different sectors of advocates working together in different localities - local health providers, supportive sections of the private sector there. And this formed part of the data that the researchers documented, and now our wealth of information for us to learn from and possibly to replicate in areas where they would be appropriate and where they would also be helpful," Hontiveros added.


Youth for Mental Health Coalition national adviser Dr. Gia Sison, for her part, believes it's time people start talking about mental health issues to break the stigma.

"We always say depression is an illness, but it doesn't define the person, and it can hit anyone. It has nothing to do with success also. So the least that we can do is to keep talking about it, and as what Senator Risa mentioned, it's really to break the stigma. I think it's about time that we start talking about mental health openly," she said.

Editor's note:
A group in the Philippines is dedicated to addressing those who have mental health problems.

The crisis hotlines of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation aim to make these individuals feel that someone is ready to listen to them.

These are their hotline numbers:

Information and Crisis Intervention Center
(02) 804-HOPE (4673)
0917-558-HOPE (4673) or (632) 211-4550
0917-852-HOPE (4673) or (632) 964-6876
0917-842-HOPE (4673) or (632) 964-4084

In Touch Crisis Lines:
0917-572-HOPE or (632) 211-1305
(02) 893-7606 (24/7)
(02) 893-7603 (Mon-Fri, 9 am-5 pm)
Globe (63917) 800.1123 or (632) 506.7314
Sun (63922) 893.8944 or (632) 346.8776