DOH to upgrade mental health facilities

MANILA-- Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial disclosed Friday that her department will upgrade mental health facilities across the country using a PHP1 billion fund.

During a media briefing held at the Department of Health (DOH) media relations unit in Manila on the occasion of World Health Day, which this year focuses on depression, Ubial said the plan to upgrade mental health facilities includes the transfer of the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong City to another location outside Metro Manila. She however declined to give details of the plan as it is being prepared by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

She said a mental health facility in Cagayan Valley is being refurbished and is nearing completion while another facility in Davao that was razed by fire sometime between 2009 and 2010 will be rebuilt. Another 12 mental health units in DOH hospitals nationwide will also be improved.

Many of the upgrades will be completed within the year, she said.

The health chief said they will also ensure that hospitals of local government units have psychiatric clinics that could give mental patients emergency treatment.

Meanwhile, citing data that the country has only one psychiatrist for every 250,000 people, far from the ideal ratio of one is to 50,000, Ubial said they plan to train general practitioners, rural doctors, and municipal and city health officers to be mental health providers.

"We're also training psychologists to give mental health first aid," she said.

She noted that as much as possible, she does not want mental health patients to be institutionalized.

Instead, they should be cared for at the community level or at home, she added.

Recently released data from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that depression is a leading contributor to disability worldwide, and that the number of people living with depression between 2005 and 2015 grew 18 percent to more than 300 million people globally.

The WHO further disclosed that less than half of people living with depression are receiving treatment due to fear and discrimination arising from stigma, and lack of available services.

According to statistics from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015, some 3.29 million Filipinos or 3.3 percent of the population were suffering from depressive disorders while 3.07 million or 3.1 percent were suffering from anxiety disorders.

Source: Philippines News Agency