DOH aims to prioritize Mental Health Bill

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DOH pushes for the inclusion of the Mental Health Bill. (photo: DOH Facebook page)

The Department of Health (DOH) promises to highlight the urgency of the Mental Health Bill by pushing for its attachment in the priority legislative agenda during the first State of the Nation Address (Sona) of newly elected President Duterte on July 25.

In a press briefing, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial stated that, “It’s important that our legislators be aligned with the priorities of the executive branch in terms of pushing for legislation and policies that would benefit the Filipino people”.

She explained that both the Senate Bill No. 2450 or the “Philippine Mental Health Act of 2014” as well as the House Bill No. 5347 or the “Philippine Mental Health Act of 2015” will give them the opportunity to organize a much needed mental health care system in the country.  This will let the department quickly respond to the citizens’ mental health needs.

This is in response to the recent report by World Health Organization (WHO), Health for the World’s Adolescents, that revealed depression as the predominant cause of disability and illness for young individuals aged 10-19 years old.

Earlier in 2012, researchers pointed at suicide as the third primary cause of death among teenagers with an estimated 1.3 million young victims worldwide.

Ubial added that they are planning to coordinate with the Department of Education as it already has developed a curriculum which specifically looks at mental health and well-being even before an individual suffers more serious problems like depression.

In this bill, health authorities can mobilize community-based mental health facilities in order to provide more affordable mental health care and accessible counseling.

Mental health issues in the country have received little attention, only until now, and most of the sufferers often face the problems on their own, isolated from family and friends. However, recent incidents and reports of suicide cases online prompted a positive public response with calls for support from different organizations.