PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill providing for basic mental health services to all Filipinos including at the barangay level, his top aide said yesterday.
Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go confirmed that the President approved Republic Act 11036, or the Philippine Mental Health Law, a measure that was shepherded in the Senate by opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
Hontiveros’ office said Duterte enacted the bill on Wednesday.
The senator said will integrate mental healthcare in the country’s public healthcare system.
“Every day, seven Filipinos turn to suicide. One in five Filipino adults also suffer from a form of mental disorder. The Mental Health Law cements the government’s commitment to a more holistic approach to healthcare: without sound mental health there can be no genuine physical health,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“No longer shall Filipinos suffer silently in the dark. The people’s mental health issues will now cease to be seen as an invisible sickness spoken only in whispers. Finally, help is here,” she added.
Aside from providing mental health services to the barangays, the law will secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs and mental health professionals; integrate psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals; improve mental healthcare facilities; and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.
Senator JV Ejercito also lauded the signing the bill into law.
“I’m very happy to hear that. I would like to thank the President for that. It’s a very significant piece of legislation especially at this point now that there are a lot of depression cases and some suicide cases,” he said during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, one of the authors, commended Duterte saying the enactment into law is a huge step in making mental health care more affordable, accessible and equitable.
“We renew our call to PhilHealth to cover fees for psychiatric consultations and medicines, as early intervention and prevention is crucial in treating mental illness,” he said in a press statement.
He said under the Mental Health Act, PhilHealth must “ensure that insurance packages equivalent to those covering physical disorders of comparable impact are available to patients affected by mental disorders.”