Gov’t says no mental health crisis in Marawi

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2017 07:04 PM

MANILA - The government on Friday said the strife-torn city of Marawi is not suffering from a mental health crisis.

The Office of Civil Defense made the clarification after the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) revealed that over 30,000 affected residents have displayed signs of mental illness due to the long-drawn conflict there.

Data from the IPHO revealed that as of Aug. 1, at least 30,732 evacuees have manifested mental disorders. 

Of this number, 6,455 were classified as Level 2, which requires psycho-social debriefing; 24,199 as Level 3, or those in need of one-on-one treatment; and 78 cases as Level 4, where patients require medication and treatment in a designated facility. 

There has yet to be a case classified as Level 5, or the worst level, where patients could no longer communicate properly, may turn violent, and already require medication. 

Assistant Secretary Kristoffer Purisima, Deputy Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, said he has yet to receive a detailed report on the matter but clarified that authorities are currently addressing the situation.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as a mental crisis, to be honest,” Purisima said in a news conference in Malacañang.

Purisima said the over 30,000 residents mentioned in the IPHO report were the ones who have availed of psychosocial first aid, stress debriefing and psychiatric treatment. 

“This shouldn’t be alarming, because nor --- normal ‘to in the sense that kung may pangangailangan sila, tinutugunan natin ‘yun at different levels, even at the lowest or at the most basic levels. Tinutugunan natin ito,” he said.

He, nonetheless, said that the government is ready to address elevated cases of mental health problems.

Purisima added that Task Force Bangon Marawi has started a Post-Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA), results of which would be the basis of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan for the war-ravaged city. 

The PCNA includes an assessment of the pyscho-social needs of displaced civilians.

The battle in Marawi has been raging since May 23, when Islamic State-inspired militants captured parts of the once-vibrant city. It has left at least 725 dead, mostly terrorists.

The crisis has displaced more than 200,000 residents from the city and thousands more from nearby areas.

The violent clashes prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Mindanao under martial law, saying local terrorists were aiming to establish an Islamic State province in the Philippines.