Lawmakers laud signing of Mental Health law

MANILA Lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Thursday lauded the signing of a landmark law that will provide a national mental health system in the Philippines.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law Republic Act No. 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Law.

Truly fantastic news. It's a bill that languished in Congress for almost 20 years. Finally, the long wait is over," Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo, principal author of the bill's House version, said in a text message.

Quimbo hopes that the new law could help prevent "thousands of suicides" that have been plaguing the country, noting that problems related to mental health have become a "silent killer".

"With the enactment, people grappling with depression, anxiety and bipolar conditions can now come out of the darkness, Quimbo said.

Quimbo, however, stressed that much work still lies ahead, as he urged all stakeholders to now make sure that the new law is properly and effectively implemented to end the stigma and address the mental health needs of Filipinos.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, also author of the law, said the signing by President Duterte of the Mental Health law is a whiff of good air and provenance that for once, something that all of us should rally behind and support.

It affirms our belief that holistic mental healthcare now, and for all regardless of status in life, should be a priority of government. Its relevance and importance should not be underestimated, Villarin added.

Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo, for his part, said with the passage of the law, hospitals must beef up their rosters of mental health care specialists.

Salo said generic medicines for mental health illnesses and conditions must also be made available in all hospitals and pharmacies.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) must start working on the implementing rules and regulations with the detailed processes, standards, and systems necessary to faithfully carry out RA 11036.

"I ask the DOH and DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to include enough funds to kick start the provision of mental health care. Expanded and better PhilHealth coverage for mental health and generic medicines must be in the set of RA 11036 programs," Salo said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency