MANILA - The Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) on Friday said it plans to include mental health services in its primary care package for Filipinos.
PhilHealth is working with the Department of Health (DOH) "for mental health to be included in the Konsulta package," the government's financing mechanism for the delivery of primary care services and commodities, said Shirley Domingo, PhilHealth Vice President for Corporate Affairs.
"That means it will now be available at the community level," she said in an online forum.
"We are working on it to bring it down to the community level so that anyone who needs it may be able to avail of it," she said.
While the Konsulta package will be launched next month, the mental health service component will not be immediately included, the PhilHealth official said.
"We will be finalizing the comprehensive out-patient package which will be including mental health," she said.
"We will be expanding this, study what services to give… either next year or the year after," she said.
At least 3.6 million Filipinos are battling mental health issues as the Philippines continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the DOH said in May.
About 1.14 million Filipinos have depression, 847,000 are battling alcohol-use disorders, while 520,000 others were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, said Frances Prescilla Cuevas, chief health program officer of the DOH's Disease Prevention and Control Bureau.
Last year, the number of people calling the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) hotline grew 5 times over after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By April 2021, a year after the pandemic began, the hotline received 1,805 calls, which is 200 calls higher than the 1,604 calls recorded in March, according to data from the DOH.