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House urged to pass mental health bill as it is 'long overdue' —advocates

A group of mental health advocates on Monday urged the House of Representatives to immediately pass for final approval the Philippine Mental Health Law because it's "long overdue."

Mental Health Alliance (MHA) in a press conference in Quezon City gathered to show the importance of integrating mental health in the country's public healthcare system.

"Health is essential to development and there is no health without mental health," Dr. June Lopez of the Philippine Psychiatric Association said.

"The passage of the Bill into law will seal the government's commitment to promote mental health services to Filipinos who need it," she added.

Citing data provided by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization, Dr. Lopez said that seven Filipinos commit suicide every day and one out of 5 Filipino adults suffer from a certain mental health concern.

"This is a cause for alarm and should be addressed urgently," Dr. Lopez said.

She also lauded both the Senate and House of Representatives for "considering the specific budgetary provisions to ensure the successful implementation of the law."

Dr. Bolet Bautista of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), for her part, said: "With the passage of the Bill, we can foresee the offering of programs that enhance the resilience of individuals, families and communities."

"Namamasko po kami sa liderato at mga miyembro ng Kadara de Representante," she added. "The ball now rests with the House leadership so we would like to respectfully ask our Representatives in Congress to heed our call: the Philippine Mental Health Bill is long overdue."

Dr. Bautista also pointed out that the mental health bill is "not only for those with diagnosable mental health conditions" but for all Filipinos.

"Its provisions target the protection and promotion of well-being and mental health of every Filipino," she added.

Aside from this, Dr. Bautista said that the mental health bill could also address mental health concerns which affected displaced residents of the embattled city of Marawi.

She underscored that psycho-social support that was provided to the residents of the Marawi City could "moderate stress reactions, prevent the development of more long lasting disturbing emotional problems, and help promote not just a sense of normalcy but hope and recovery."

"Such support must reach civilian individuals and families as well as the soldiers who risk their lives and well-being in going to battle," Dr. Bautista said.

"All Filipinos are entitled to mental health, good relationships, and a life that offers many opportunities to thrive," she added.

Meanwhile, Patrick Wincy Reyes of the Youth for Mental Health Coalition said that the passage of the bill into law will be "celebrated by everyone, young and old," adding that this will be a "victory for the 17th Congress."

"The issue of mental health has long been discussed in hushed voices. But nowadays, we feel a change in the public's mood," Reyes said.

Last month, the House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 6452 or the Comprehensive Mental Health Act on second reading. It's Senate version was approved on third and final reading in May.

Tags: mentalhealth