Filtered By: Topstories

PhilHealth seeks more funding for mental health services for children

The state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) called for additional funding for mental health services for children amid the increase in violent incidents and the emergence of mental health problems among school kids.

Dr. Albert Domingo of PhilHealth made the pitch during the briefing by concerned government agencies on the situation and welfare of children as regards the implementation of RA 11036, otherwise known as the Philippine Mental Health Law, in light of reports of violence and the rise in suicide cases and attempts among students.

“In an effort to improve the implementation of the Universal Health Care program, we want the primary care to be owned and paid for by the Department of Health thru the additional fund appropriation by Congress and made available by the Department of Budget and Management. This [additional funding] should be on top or separate from the budget for insurance premiums,” Domingo said.

Domingo added that including mental health services in primary care was crucial because most adult mental health conditions were rooted in childhood.

“Based on research, mental health conditions stem from childhood, and it gets tougher to treat it as the person grows older. We have evidence that mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, can be prevented if we are able to address it at an early age,” Domingo said.

“Ang pinanggagalingan ng mental health conditions ay paghihirap sa pamilya, komunidad, mental health ng kanilang mga magulang, kawalan ng pagkain o tirahan, pagkakaroon ng delikadong bahay. Tinitignan natin ang bata bilang pasyente, pero mas mabisang solusyunan ang mga sitwasyong ito na nagreresulta sa mental health state ng bata,” Domingo added.

(Mental health conditions stem from struggles within the family, community, parents having mental health problems too, lack of food and shelter, being exposed to high-risk households. We look at our children as patients, but it would be better for us to find solutions to these situations that affect children’s mental state.)

Domingo said that under the existing PhilHealth policy, the state-run health insurance firm shoulders P7,800 in treatment costs for patients with dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders, which is inadequate.

As such, Domingo said that PhilHealth was pilot-testing new mental health care packages that were more attuned to each patient's mental health and financial needs.

A primary care mental health package being pilot tested in Metro Manila, the Central Luzon and Davao Regions has 12 psychosocial care consultations, diagnostics, psychological education, and psychosocial support.

Accredited primary care teams, physicians and allied professionals, outpatient mental health specialist would provide these services.

“We are reviewing the clinical evidence and service delivery systems for mental health conditions to design an expanded health benefit package for different levels of care. We are consulting with mental health care professionals and people with mental health conditions,” Domingo added.

Meanwhile, Principal Rochelle Razo of the John Dewey School for Children agreed with Domingo that investing significant resources for children’s mental health was worthwhile.

Razo pointed to University of the Philippines-Diliman studies which said that most school children who contemplated taking their own lives did not reach out to anyone at all, and the miniscule number of those who reached out did so with their friends, not their parents or guardians.

“Schools have a vital role in promoting children’s wellbeing because they are in a position to identify and support children experiencing emotional difficulties. We could prevent these emotional difficulties from happening by promoting the children’s emotional wellbeing as well as social and moral development,” Razo said.

“We can make our future bright by ensuring that our environment is conducive in making our students thrive. Schools usually just focus on the intellect, but we now know that it is not going to help our children, especially in their mental health. We have to ensure that they are emotionally and socially balanced,” she added. — DVM, GMA Integrated News