House OKs men­tal health bill

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By JESS DIAZ

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has ap­proved on sec­ond read­ing a bill pro­vid­ing for a com­pre­hen­sive na­tional men­tal health­care pro­gram and its in­te­gra­tion with the coun­try’s pri­mary health­care de­liv­ery sys­tem.

The com­mit­tee on health chaired by Que­zon Rep. An­gelita Tan and com­mit­tee on ap­pro­pri­a­tions headed by Davao City Rep. Karlo No­grales en­dorsed House Bill 6452 or the Com­pre­hen­sive Men­tal Health Act.

The mea­sure is a con­sol­i­da­tion of sev­eral re­lated bills.

Tan and An­tipolo Rep. Chiqui Roa Puno, au­thor of one of the bills, spon­sored the mea­sure.

Also ap­proved on sec­ond read­ing is another pro­posed law au­thored by the Que­zon con­gress­woman. It seeks to pro­vide schol­ar­ships to med­i­cal stu­dents in state uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges pro­vided they This re­quire­ment will make more doc­tors avail­able in ru­ral ar­eas, Tan said.

Tan, a com­mu­nity doc­tor be­fore seek­ing pub­lic of­fice, said the ap­proval of the men­tal health bill is timely be­cause of the in­creas­ing num­ber of Filipinos with men­tal ill­nesses.

“We have to have a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram to deal with these ail­ments. Through the bill, the gov­ern­ment should be able to pro­vide men­tal health­care not only in spe­cial­ized in­sti­tu­tions but in big sta­te­owned hos­pi­tals in the prov­inces,” she said.

Puno said the mea­sure seeks “to pro­mote men­tal well­ness, pre­vent the progress of men­tal health prob­lems through in­ter­ven­tion and prop­erly ad­dress ex­ist­ing men­tal dis­or­ders.”

“We need to ease the pain of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of Filipinos with men­tal health con­di­tions who often suf­fer in si­lence, so that they no longer feel alone and help­less in deal­ing with their men­tal health woes,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Lour­des Ig­na­cio of the UP Col­lege of Medicine, one in three Filipinos has a men­tal health prob­lem.

The pro­posed men­tal health law man­dates the De­part­ment of Health (DOH) to for­mu­late a na­tional men­tal health­care pro­gram in co­or­di­na­tion with per­sons with men­tal dis­abil­ity and their or­ga­ni­za­tions, their fam­i­lies, care­givers and men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als.

The DOH would also be tasked to de­velop an ex­ten­sive de­liv­ery sys­tem that could pro­vide men­tal health­care up to the re­gional and pro­vin­cial lev­els.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment units would be asked to up­grade their hos­pi­tals and re­cruit com­pe­tent staff so they could pro­vide men­tal health ser­vice.

The bill de­fines the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of all con­cerned gov­ern­ment agen­cies and men­tal health ser­vice providers.

Funds needed for the en­vi­sioned com­pre­hen­sive na­tional men­tal health­care pro­gram would be in­cluded in the DOH bud­get.

Vi­o­la­tors of the pro­posed law face im­pris­on­ment of six months to two years or a fine of P10,000 to P200,000 or both, at the dis­cre­tion of the court.

The DOH will be man­dated to is­sue im­ple­ment­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions.

Other au­thors of the con­sol­i­dated bill in­clude Romero Quimbo of Marik­ina, Pia Cayetano of Taguig, Car­los Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list, Jeri­cho No­grales of Puwesa ng Bayan­ing Atleta and Tom Vil­larin of Ak­bayan.

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