Duterte signs Mental Health Law

MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed Republic Act No. 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Law that aims to enhance the delivery of integrated mental health services in the country.

The 36-page new law, which was signed by Duterte on June 20, will also promote and protect the rights of persons using psychiatric, neurologic and psychosocial health services.

Under the new law, the government should come up with effective leadership and governance for mental health; and should establish a comprehensive and efficient national mental health care system.

The government is also duty-bound to strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health; integrate mental health care in basic health services; and integrate strategies in educational institutions, workplaces and communities.

Since it will be integrated into basic health services, the mental health care law should also provide PhilHealth coverage for confinement, checkups and medicines, and special rooms for mental health patients.

The law provides that mental health care services should be available not only in Metro Manila and major cities but “every local government unit (LGU) and academic institutions” based on the needs of the population.

The Department of Health (DOH), along with the Philippine Council for Mental Health (PCMH), is tasked to guide the establishment and assist the operation of mental health care facilities throughout the country.

According to Section 21 of the law, mental health services shall include mechanisms “for suicide intervention, prevention and response strategies with particular attention to the concerns of the youth.”

It added that 24/7 hotlines should be provided to assist individuals with mental health conditions, especially those at risk of committing suicide.

The PCMH will be established as a policy-making, planning, coordinating and advisory body attached to the DOH to ensure the proper implementation of the law.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the signing of “Mental Health Act” is a testament of the Duterte administration’s commitment to provide accessible and affordable mental health care and services to all Filipinos.

“It forms part of the government’s mandate to design and implement a national mental health program and integrate this as part of the health information system, among others,” Roque said in a press statement.

He said the passage of the law, which he co-authored when he was still in Congress, recognizes mental disorders as illness which can be diagnosed and treated.

“We hope this policy will help neutralize the stigma attached to mental illness,” Roque said.

“Implementing a universal mental healthcare system in the country would provide more awareness regarding mental health among Filipinos, especially given the rising number of suicide cases among the youth,” he added. PNA-northboundasia.com