Issue of November 3, 2019
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New law allows health ctrs to deal w/ mental health issues
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

Health centers may now provide services related to mental health care.

A mental health advocate of the City Health Services Office said that with the signing of the Mental Health Act, doctors assigned at the barangay health centers, albeit considered general practitioners, have been trained to render initial services related to mental health.

With more reported cases of people undergoing some form of mental illness, Dr. Zoraida Clavio said the law has extended the support system to the community through health centers.

“The Mental Health Act aims to protect and help people with mental health issues. In our health centers, our doctors are there to help. Kung may kakilala kayo na kailangan ng tulong, kumunsulta na. Sa umpisa pa lang, agapan na,” Clavio said, relating the mental health cases they have encountered, especially depression, which, she said is widespread especially among the youth.

She said many end their lives because of the lack of enough support system.

In Baguio, data shows there were 25 suicide cases recorded in 2018 and 13 for 2019. 

Clavio said if given the proper intervention, people with mental health issues can lead meaningful lives. She said doctors in health centers will assess those who will seek consultation and if needed, will refer them to psychiatrists to undergo counseling or medication.

Clavio said that in dealing with mental health illnesses, experts employ two phases of treatment: psychiatric management and medication.

“There are tools to assess your or your loved ones’ situation. Close family ties are important. We all have responsibilities. Let us help them,” Clavio said.

Under the Mental Health Act, the Department of Health shall fund the establishment and assist in the operation of community-based mental health care facilities in the provinces, cities and cluster of municipalities in the entire country.

Examples of community-based mental health care facilities include community health centers, outpatient care centers, halfway houses, crisis centers, and drop-in centers.

The law provides that each community-based mental health facility shall have a complement of mental health professionals, allied professionals, support staff, trained barangay health workers, volunteer family members of patients, and basic equipment and supplies.

The Mental Health Act also mandates crafting of a national suicide prevention strategy, education and promotion of mental health in educational institutions, and capacity building training of barangay health workers, among others.

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