MANILA — The Department of Health has vowed to improve mental health services in the country by expanding access to such services and strengthening community-based mental care programs.
According to DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, stigma and discrimination hinder Filipinos from availing mental health services.
"Recognizing these challenges, we have adopted a non-specialized approach to bring mental health services closer to the communities, ensuring that mental health care is available for all life stages in various settings and levels of care," she said in a statement Thursday.
Vergeire called on other sectors to eliminate the stigma around mental health.
On Wednesday, Vergeire and other health officials visited the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City to check on the patients and its facilities and medical equipment.
During the rounds, patients were seen conducting productive activities such as sewing bed sheets and bags, planting crops, and creating accessories like bracelets and necklaces.
Apart from general adult psychiatry, the NCMH also offers child and adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, women and children protection, and crisis management services.
According to NCMH medical center chief Dr. Noel Reyes, the psychiatric hospital aims to prepare service users to function and operate as a fully functioning member of society.
"We want to remove the impression that patients with mental illnesses are non-recoverable and isolated — here in NCMH we work to help our service users recover and further imbed them with the foundation and resources they need for a full return to their family, friends, and the community," he said in a statement.
The DOH also pledged to support the development of more mental health facilities across the country as part of its effort to increase the accessibility of healthcare services.
Vergeire stressed the importance of improving the research agenda on mental health prevalence and the need to increase funding for the training of mental health care professionals.