De Lima renews call for mental health professionals for EJK victims’ families

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Senator Leila M. de Lima has reiterated her call to extend help for thousands of Filipinos who are going through emotional stress, trauma, anxiety, and depression, especially the widows and orphans of the victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK).

In her message on World Mental Health Day today (Oct. 10), De Lima urged the government to approach mental wellness with firm and full resolve to make it a growing public health issue in the Philippines.

“I reiterate my call for our government [t]o provide counselling and psychosocial services to our citizens in helping them overcome extreme life events, such as the rampant extrajudicial killings, the continued sufferings in conflict-ridden areas such as Marawi, the deaths due to calamities, and the hounding fear of barely surviving amid wretched poverty,” she said.

Organized by the World Federation for Mental Health and observed every Oct. 10 of every year, World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness on mental health issues around the world and mobilize efforts in support of mental health.

The observance of the World Mental Health Day “provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.”

Since Mr. Duterte took the helm of the government in July 2016, the lady Senator from Bicol noted how the Filipinos have to deal not only with anxieties, but also with grief and sorrow for losing their loved ones to extrajudicial and summary killings.

“It is a moral travesty that such trauma and emotional burden have been inflicted on so many of our countrymen who have been rendered orphans, widows, or childless,” said De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare, and Rural Development.

“The killings, as well as the dejected thinking that the victims’ families being mostly poor and marginalized cannot seek out justice, let alone for mental professional help, should end now,” she added.

Since Duterte administration launched its murderous war on drugs in 2016, the Philippines has been plagued with rampant cases of extrajudicial killings committed in the guise of fighting drug-related crimes, killing more than 20,000 individuals, to date.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, added she principally authored and sponsored the Magna Carta of the Poor Act not only to address the basic needs of the poor but also to address the mental health issues critically affecting them and the entire Filipino populace.

“With this law, the government should hire more mental health professionals, while raising awareness and removing the stigma of seeking help for psychological and emotional problems,” she said.

“Let us always strive to understand and be compassionate to one another. I am confident that together, despite different challenges, Filipinos will never yield, and will keep on fighting for a better life and a better future of our nation,” she added.

Known as a prisoner of conscience, De Lima has consistently maintained that no amount of lies by political manipulators and even paid trolls could prevent her from fulfilling her mandate by filing meaningful Senate bills and resolutions.

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