To address the intensifying mental health issues that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to Filipinos, the House of Representatives has approved a bill seeking the creation of the country’s first-ever mental wellness center. 

House Bill No. 9980, which is now on its way to the Senate, received a unanimous affirmative vote of 196 in the Lower House on Monday (September 27) on its third and final reading. 

The center will be constructed in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan. It will be funded and managed by the city government together with the Department of Health (DOH). 

The measure’s author, San Jose Del Monte Rep. Florida Robes, welcomed the House’s approval of her proposal, which she described as “very timely” as the country is grappling with the “many mental health problems and issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Robes, citing data from the National Health Program of the DOH, said that 3.6 million Filipinos are suffering from mental disorders at present.

“Mental health has been widely ignored and less prioritized by the government as our country has been considered one of the poorest in terms of mental health resources,” Robes explained further. 

“The problem of mental health has even been more pronounced as we encounter the many ill-effects of COVID-19 with the lockdowns and social distancing which have prevented us from being with our friends and engaging in personal interactions and connection with other people,” she added.

The clinic, which will be called the San Jose Del Monte Mental Wellness Center, will offer counseling, therapy, crisis counseling, intervention, medication, evaluation and management, group therapy, mindfulness meditation, after-hours care, and other psychiatric services.

Psychotherapy services will also be provided to patients facing difficult emotions, anxiety and stress, childhood trauma, cross-cultural issues, life transitions, depression, parenting issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic abuse, and family and interpersonal conflicts.

According to Robes, the city government of SJDM is now preparing a development plan for the center, which will align with the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan in consultation with the DOH.

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