Senators laud passage of Mental Health Law

MANILA Senators on Thursday lauded President Rodrigo R. Duterte's signing into law Republic Act No. 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Law that would integrate mental health in the general health care system.

President Duterte signed the measure on Wednesday, a day before it would have lapsed into law.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, the author and principal sponsor of the bill in the Senate, commended the President, saying that the signing of RA 11036 cements the government's commitment to a more holistic approach to health care.

The law will secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs and mental health professionals, provide mental health services down to the barangays, integrate psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals, improve our mental health care facilities and promote mental health education in our schools and workplaces, she said.

"No longer shall Filipinos suffer silently in the dark. The people's mental health issues will now cease to be seen as an invisible sickness spoken only in whispers. Finally, help is here," Hontiveros said.

Meanwhile, other authors of the measure also lauded its passage Senate President Vivcente Sotto III, senators Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Loren Legarda, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Angara said the enactment of RA 11036 is a huge step in making mental health care more affordable, accessible and equitable.

He said the law mandates the Department of Health to provide psychiatric services to all regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals, while increasing the capacities of mental health professionals.

Angara also noted that under the Mental Health Act, PhilHealth must "ensure that insurance packages equivalent to those covering physical disorders of comparable impact are available to patients affected by mental disorders."

The measure provides PhilHealth coverage for mental health patients' confinement, check-ups and medicines, and the opening of units dedicated for them to be attended by health workers.

With the Mental Health Law, we can now paint a clearer picture of a Philippines where every citizen is able to maintain a stable emotional balance to handle daily tasks. We hope that this law will help Filipinos overcome the stigma of mental illness, and enable them to seek professional help, he said.

This law gives people with mental health problems and their families the opportunity to hope for better lives, Angara said.

Meanwhile, Villanueva thanked the President for supporting the passage of the Mental Health Law, saying that it would help address the rising cases of youth suicides in the country.

Citing several studies, Villanueva noted that 46 percent of the total suicide cases recorded in the country since 2010 are from the youth; 30 percent are young adults aged 20 to 35 years old while the remaining 16 percent are from the 10 to 19 years age group.

"By making mental health care accessible down to the barangays and promoting mental health education in schools and workplaces, this important piece of legislation would give awareness regarding mental health and remove social stigma against people with suicidal tendencies," he said.

"We hope that we can save someone's precious life by the immediate implementation of this landmark law. Help is on the way, Villanueva said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan said the signing of the Philippine Mental Health Law is an important step that would make a difference in the lives of people with mental illness.

Those afflicted by this health problem should no longer lurk in the dark, he said.

Pangilinan said he hopes that the necessary funds would be allocated to implement the law.

The next crucial step is funding. Funding is needed to pave the way for mental health research, diagnosis and treatment. We hope the government would not renege on its commitment to infuse resources to give life to the law, he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency