Physical health is just as important as anything else related to life and death. What many Filipinos often forget is that caring for the body isn’t holistic in the eyes of the law, and tends to discredit or forget the importance of the mind. Mental health care has been a staggering issue in the Philippines for a long time now but has only come to attention and priority in the Philippine Congress in the last few years. With the emergence of social media and the continuous voices of the Filipino youth, politicians and congressmen and congresswomen have finally provided a concrete support system for the mental health care industry.
Mental Health First
Last June 20th, the Philippine Mental Health Act was signed into law and began its effectivity on the 5th of July this month. The Philippine senator who fought tooth and nail to have this right incorporated into public health care coverage is Senator Risa Hontiveros, who according to Rappler, praised the notorious Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte for signing Republic Act 11036 saying how this new extension will “set the path for the government’s policy in integrating mental healthcare in the country’s public healthcare system.”
The new law is said to secure the rights and welfare of the people suffering from mental health concerns. From depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, among many others will be given priority in the public health care system. Republic Act 11036 will be extended to local barangays, while also integrating psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals all over the country.
There will also be a budget on improving mental health care facilities and programs that will be geared towards educating schools and workplaces on the importance of mental health. PhilHealth, the public health care provider of millions of working Filipinos was also duly recognized by one of the authors of the bill, Senator Sonny Angara. “Currently, PhilHealth only covers hospitalization brought about by acute attacks of mental and behavioral disorders at a package rate of P7,800. We hope that in the drafting of the IRR, free psychiatric consultations and medicines shall be made available for all Filipinos,” Angara adds.
Slowly but Surely
Now that mental, emotional, and physical needs are finally being prioritized by the local government in the Philippines, it brings forth a sign of hope for many young Filipinos to come forward and ask for help. Seeking for help, building a strong support system, and taking steps in making sure you manage life with a sound mind can do so much to help you live a peaceful life.
It doesn’t have to be big, just take small steps in improving your quality of life by practicing meditation, exercising, eating right, talking to your friends, seeing a therapist, and being consistent on the medications, it’s all worth trying because rest assured, the journey towards a positive headspace doesn’t just stop at a new bill, but in your capacity to embrace this new opportunity to put yourself first and take care of your mental health.