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DOH gears up for more comprehensive mental health program

MENTAL HEALTH FAIR. Department of Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag (second from right) leads the unveiling of a Republict Act 11036 tarpaulin and the pledge of support during the Mental Health Fair held at Punta Villa Resort and Convention Center in Iloilo City on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (Photo by Pearl G. Lena)

ILOILO CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) is now preparing for a “more comprehensive and extensive implementation of the National Mental Health program” next year following the passage of Republic Act 11036, also known as the Mental Health Act.

In her keynote message at the opening of the two-day Mental Health Fair in this city on Monday, Director III Ruby Constantino of the DOH Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said that extensive implementation of the program is guaranteed by the law.

The department, she noted, is taking cognizance of the “immense role of mental health and well-being in national development”.

“Mental health and well-being are intertwined with personal well-being, family relationships and contributions to society. Problems with mental health and well-being can diversely compromise or affect our learning, creativity, productivity, contribution to family and society and overall quality of life,” she said.

The World Economic Forum in 2013 estimated that the cumulative global impact of mental disorder in terms of losses in economic output will amount to USD16 trillion over the next 20 years, Constantino noted.

She announced that starting next year, there will be a unit at the DOH central office devoted to mental health programs under the Center for Health Development.

“I am sure everyone is excited to see how we will be able to shape up mental health services in the country with this landmark legislation,” she added.

Constantino admitted, however, that there will be “uphill struggle as we overcome widespread stigma, low budget, lack of manpower and still an inefficient system”.

“But there is hope, we have a springboard to jump from and together we will be able to see the real results at the end of the tunnel,” she also pointed out.

The Mental Health Fair was organized as part of the observance of the National Mental Health Week every second week of October and the World Mental Health Day every October 10.

It also served as venue for the public consultation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law by the task force that was created to craft the IRR.

Frances Prescilla Cuevas, chief health program officer and officer-in-charge of the DOH’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau-Essential Non-Communicable Disease Division, said that the input from the region will form part of the second draft of the IRR.

Cuevas presented to the audience the first draft of the IRR. The team has earlier conducted consultations in Manila, Leyte, Legazpi City and Cagayan de Oro.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Mental Health Act last June 20. The law took effect on August 3 but the IRR is expected to come early next month. (Perla Lena/PNA)

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