De Lima urges Senate to investigate increasing mental health issues in PH


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate Resolution seeking to look into the reported increase of mental health incidents in the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on.

In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 439, De Lima urged the Senate to review the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11036, or the Mental Health Act, to craft and integrate a comprehensive mental health strategy in relation to the government’s response to COVID-19.

“Issues on mental health is far deeper than we think and imagine, and reek more intensely in our society as everyone is mandated to be confined at home. Everyone has all the time to be alone with their minds during a pandemic when nothing is certain, and the future is still a blur,” she said.

“COVID-19 affected millions of people worldwide. It is one big invisible enemy that malevolently attacks every aspect of our health. It causes turmoil of emotions and storms of anxiety which is greatly affecting our mental health,” she added.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “[m]ore than 100 million people suffer from mental disorders in the Western Pacific region, including the Philippines, with depressive disorders accounting for 5.73% of mental disorders in the region.”

Despite the enactment of the Mental Health Law, Dr. Angelo Jesus Arias, the Director of the Philippine Psychiatric Association, said that the number and distribution of mental health workers in the country remains a problem during the pandemic.

It is reported that that the Philippines has only one psychiatrist for every 250,000 population, which is very far from the ideal ratio of one psychiatrist to 50,000 population.

In a recent Senate hearing, the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) confirmed that the hospital’s 24/7 helpline has been flooded with individuals seeking mental health interventions, with roughly around 300 to 400 calls per month from the previous 60-80 calls monthly, after restrictions were enforced to control the spread of COVID-19. Most calls were from people who suffer from anxiety and depression.

De Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, maintained that the State should not neglect the mental well-being of its citizens, especially during these difficult times.

“Everyone right now, from our healthcare frontliners, members of the labor sector, up to those who are staying at home, are all experiencing different levels of grief, stress, confusion and anxiety and it is ultimately our duty to ensure that their mental health are not compromised during a pandemic,” she said.

“Our much vaunted resilience is a direct result of our capacity to properly process the challenges that meet our country. Thus, there is need to ensure that the mental health of our country is not being ignored,” she added.

In a separate recent statement, De Lima signified her agreement with the Senate Health Committee in its call to address mental health concerns as the fears and anxieties brought about by COVID-19 continue to affect the emotional health of many Filipinos. (30)

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