Thursday, February 5, 2015

Albay board member seeks mental health integration in total health system
By Mike de la Rama

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 4 (PNA) -- Albay Board Member Herbert Borja, committee on health chair, has sought the integration of mental health within the total health system and provision of services to mentally ill persons and their families.

The local policymaker said that in so far as the Province of Albay is concerned, there is no existing mental health delivery system, policy and treatment care as well as support to mentally ill patients and their families.

“Establishment of baseline data is necessary in order to come up with a local response mental health program in the province of Albay,” Borja said.

According to him, the Philippines has no sufficient mental health law and funding support and that the mental health programs, facilities, projects and services are not evenly distributed in the country.

There is a pending measure in the House of Representatives sponsored by congressmen Prospero Nograles and Arthur Pingoy Jr. which will establish a "National Mental Health Care Delivery System" and the "Philippine Council for Mental Health."

House Bill 6679 aims to enact a national mental health policy and to establish a national mental health care delivery system in the Philippines that is effective—that will deliver appropriate services and interventions, treatments and other essential services to every Filipino with mental illness and/or disability.

“However, the proposed bills are still pending in Congress and while the affected populations suffer from lack of treatment care and support from government side, the number of mentally ill patients in the country, or even in the Bicol Region, is increasing,” Borja said.

He added that local government units should act in addressing gaps and consider that mental health is an integral component of total health.

The World Health Organization (WHO), on the other hand, clearly stated that mental, neurological and substance-use disorders are common in all regions of the world, affecting every community and age group across all income countries.

While 14 percent of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected – 75 percent in many low-income countries -- do not have access to the treatment they need.

Borja also said that issues on mental health include not only the traditional mental disorders but also as important are the concerns of target populations vulnerable to psychosocial risks brought about by extreme life experiences (e.g. disasters, near death experiences, heinous and violent crimes, internal displacement brought about by religious and civil unrest) as well as the psychosocial concerns of daily living (e.g. maintaining a sense of well-being in these difficult times).

He cited that in 2005, the University of the Philippines conducted a survey and found that 45 percent of Filipino adolescents are struck with depression.

Despite the compelling figures, the advocates of mental health management pioneered by nongovernment organizations such as the Philippine Mental Health Association have had to take the backseat for almost two decades to give way to government priorities that take in hand economic issues.

“Services for mental health must be available within the public health as well as the hospital system of the country and such services must have promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative component,” he said.

The Albay lawmaker admitted that there is a notable number of clients seeking financial assistance from his office to buy medicines for mentally ill patients.

“We need to do something in order to help those mentally ill individuals in the province of Albay,” Borja added.

He also endorsed the conduct of a rapid assessment survey to determine the services and facilities available in the province of Albay.

“We also need to come up with accurate data on the number of Albayanos seeking mental health services or intervention.” (PNA) FPV/FGS/MDR/CBD/EBP