P23-M Mental Wellness Center to rise in 2020

SunStar File

HOMELESS persons struggling with mental health will soon be sheltered by the Davao City Government in a Mental Wellness Center, with an allocated budget of P23 million.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said the center will be divided into two parts: one will be a facility for mentally challenged individuals who do not have relatives in the city and cannot be accommodated at the Southern Medical Philippines Center Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Medicine (SPMC-IPBM), and the other will be an outpatient counseling service center.

"Our Mental Wellness Center will target psychotic vagrants. We will build a house for them and after medication, we will bring them back to their families or a support center for depression and suicide," Duterte-Carpio said in a statement.

The mayor said she approved the construction of the facility, having also secured funding support from the office of Dumper Party-list Representative Claudine Bautista.

The construction of the facility is expected to start in January 2020, with Duterte-Carpio saying the local government will fast-track the construction.

Meanwhile, Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, the proponent for the mental health ordinance, said the center is a big help especially for homeless people.

"Since these homeless people with mental disability, with no parents or guardian, cannot be admitted at SPMC-IPBM, the local government will be serving as a guardian for these people. We will be treating them," Villafuerte told SunStar Davao in a phone interview Friday, October 4.

"Because we really need to remove these people in the streets because they can never get well when we will just let them be there," Villafuerte added.

As to the outpatient counseling service center, she said it will provide free counseling to patients with some mental anxiety and depression. She added that only the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) provides free counseling.

Villafuerte said she already initiated talks with SPMC Medical Center chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega for the space inside the SPMC-IPBM compound for the mental health facility.

"Within the year, we will work for the Memorandum of Usufruct with SPMC, where we target the construction of the facility," she said.

The councilor, who heads the committee of health, said the center is a product of the Mental Health Code of Davao, which was approved last March and which provides for an integrated and comprehensive approach to the development of the City Mental Health Care Program and Delivery System to deliver appropriate services and interventions, including provision of mental health protection, care, treatment and other essential services to those with mental illness or disability.

"Very challenging na 'yung times natin (Times are very challenging these days). We need to help our people who struggle with anxiety, which is now considered as well a mental health disorder," she said.

But the city does not have a concrete data as to the number of persons with mental disorder.

Previous reports showed, however, some suicide incidents in the city, wherein a prominent mall became well-known for its suicide incidents.

The councilor also said there is a need to strengthen the community-based mental health program to have an easy access for mental health medication and intervention within the community.

"We need to strengthen it, so that they won't have to go to the nearest hospitals for treatment. Doon nalang sila sa nearest health centers (They would have just to visit the nearest health center)," Villafuerte said. (With CIO)


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