With at least one study claiming that one out of every three Filipinos grapples with mental issues, the House of Representatives passed on second reading a measure that would address the growing need for a national mental health system that really works for Filipinos needing psychological care.
Coming just one more step for approval with the formality of a third reading is House Bill 6252 entitled “The Comprehensive Mental Health Act” which intends to deliver an integrated mental health services, while protecting the rights of persons availing psychiatric, neurologic and psychosocial health services.
The bill’s principal author, Deputy Speaker Rep. Romero Quimbo cited several studies in the Philippines which called attention to the lack of proper care for mental health patients who are prone to abuses in the health care system.
Mental health refers to a state of well-being in which every individual realizes one’s own potential; is able to cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to the community.
Rep. Angelina Tan (4th District, Quezon), chairperson of the committee on health, and Rep. Chiqui Roa-Puno (1st District, Antipolo City) sponsored the bill on the floor.
Ultimately, the proposed law wants to ensure that Filipinos are able to contribute to the development of the country and are able to attain better quality of life because their mental needs are assured along with their overall physical and health needs.
The bill integrates mental health care in the general health delivery system, especially in the programs of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). It also promotes the study of mental health in both elementary and secondary educational systems to prevent depression, obesity, and teenage pregnancy among students of this age group.
The bill strengthens the functions and reconstitutes the composition of the Philippine Council for Mental Health (PCMH) which was created under Executive Order 470 and attached to the DOH to provide a coherent, rational and unified response to mental health problems, concerns, and efforts through the formulation and implementation of the National Mental Health Care Services Delivery System.
Likewise, it provides for the rights of person with mental illnesses or who is being treated for a mental illness such as the right to freedom from social, economic, and political discrimination and stigmatization.
Under the bill, mental health professionals shall have the right to have a safe and supportive health environment; participate in a continuous professional development program; and participate in the planning, development, and management of health services.
Aside from Quimbo, Roa-Puno and Tan, the other authors of the bill are House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, Deputy Speakers Pia Cayetano and Linabelle Ruth Villarica, among others.