Baguilat seeks rights protection for mental health patients

IFUGAO Representative Teddy Baguilat has filed a bill seeking the creation of a Philippine Mental Health Council and a National Mental Health Care Delivery System to promote mental health protection and improve mental health services.

u201cThe state of our mental health facilities is dire and we lack a coherent program. The need to immediately provide these is more pronounced now when we are in the middle of a drug war. The reintegration of alleged drug addicts into society will require mental health support,” said Baguilat.

u201cI believe that drug addiction is one among many mental health issues and a holistic campaign against drug use will need adequate facilities and programs to address the mental health needs of addicts. What we have right now is far from enough,” he added.

Citing data from the Department of Health, Baguilat said in his proposed bill, almost one of every 100 households has a member with mental disability. And as early as 2003, intentional self-inflicted cases were found to be the ninth leading cause of death among Filipinos 20-24 years old.

Incidence of suicide in males increased from 0.23 to 3.59 per 100,000 between 1984 and 2005, Baguilat said, while rates rose from 0.12 to 1.09 per 100,000 in females.

Additionally, individuals with chronic mental illness, children of overseas Filipino workers and those in areas of armed conflict have higher risk of developing mental health problems.

"Then there is the serious problem of lack of qualified personnel," Baguilat said.

In his proposed bill, Baguilat added there are only about 490 psychiatrists and 1,000 nurses working in psychiatric care, and even fewer general practitioners trained in early assessment and management of common mental health problems in the community.

"The number of addiction specialists, psychologists, occupational therapists, guidance counselors and social workers are extremely inadequate to meet the mental health needs of 100 million Filipinos," he said.

There are only two state-run mental hospitals, 46 outpatient facilities, four day treatment facilities, 19 community-based psychiatric inpatient facilities and 15 community residential (custodial home-care) facilities for the whole country.

Almost all mental health facilities are in the major cities, while the only mental hospital in the National Capital Region houses only 4,200 beds.

Thus, Baguilat said the bill seeks to integrate mental health services into the national health system to meet the needs of those who lack access to readily-available, affordable and equitable mental health care, especially the poor.

"The bill, among other solutions, seeks to create the Philippine Council for Mental Health as an attached agency of the Department of Health, to provide a rational and unified response to mental health problems, concerns and efforts through the formulation and implementation of the National Mental Health Care Delivery System, Baguilat said. (PR)


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