Apart from taking a toll on the country’s finances and people’s livelihood, the pandemic affected Filipinos’ mental health the most.
Due to this, suicide rates in the Philippines have been rising steadily. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest data, the suicide rate in the country has climbed to 57 percent since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.
To address this increase in self-inflicted harm and death, House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda is requesting a much stronger implementation of the Republic Act (RA) 11036 or the Mental Health Care Act (MHCA).
Legarda, who was one of the authors of the 2018 measure, said the need to strengthen MHCA is now. Through the act, Filipinos will be provided with affordable and accessible mental health services, especially those who are suffering from mental disabilities and self-induced harm.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need to also take care of our mental health to help us survive and thrive despite the current challenges. This is one of the many laws that I passed when I was Senator and these are relevant and helpful in coping with changes caused by the current health crisis,” Legarda shared.
“RA 11036 has ushered in a new chapter in mental healthcare policy and service delivery in the Philippines and we should ensure its strict and effective implementation on the integration of mental heath in all health services and policy initiatives,” she emphasized.
Legarda notes that people’s mental health often goes unnoticed and unchecked, a circumstance she finds unideal and something that needs to change, particularly with how things are unfolding with the pandemic.
“Mental health is one aspect in the society that is not given utmost attention. With various societal issues that we are facing, we sometimes neglect to prioritize the mental health of every citizen of this nation without us knowing its effects on people’s day-to-day performance on education, employment, physical health and even relationships,” she stressed.
If fully executed, MHCA will entail the erection of the Philippine Council for Mental Health, which will be established as an attached agency under the Department of Health (DOH). It will provide a unified, coherent response to mental health issues, specifically through the formulation and implementation of the National Mental Health Care Delivery System.
The Antique congresswoman pointed out that the MHCA has not been fully utilized since its enactment three years ago.
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Image credit: PNA