Republic Act 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Act signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 21, 2018 brought hope to Filipinos suffering from mental health problems. Common as mental health difficulties are, the public remains vigilant for the full implementation of RA 11036.
Mental health has once again surfaced as a primary issue during this pandemic and a month after Super Typhoon Odette. Most of us are suffering mentally. A lots of people are experiencing grief, stress, and trauma. We are badly need psychological support.
The situation we are in makes one wonder how the implementation of the Mental Health Law fairing. Do politicians, through the eyes of the law, truly see the importance of mental health? Have they fathomed people’s need for neuropsychiatric help? What remains to be done for the comprehensive roll-out of mental health services?
Over and beyond RA 11036, politicians need to deepen their understanding of everyone’s need to recover from the psyche aches of COVID-19 and Typhoon Odette. If this means that social action needs to be ramped up or social media campaigns intensified, these are certainly ways forward. Rather than indifference or neglect, our conscientization is needed to rally behind the cause of mental health.
Apart from supporting social movements, another powerful way of advancing the cause of mental health patients, service users, and families and communities reeling from mental health difficulties, is to get behind mental health professionals who have volunteered their help, despite the risks, their own scant resources, and the overwhelming need that lies ahead. Volunteering our time, talents, and treasures will help us rise and stand as one from the continuous onslaught of depression, anxiety, suicide, and hopelessness.
Taking from the action of volunteers, concerned citizens, and advocates, government should implement RA 11036 as fully as possible before it’s too late and we lose more lives to mental stress, strain, and suffering. We should act in the spirit of Bayanihan now and activate mental health programs and organizations, utilizing them at capacity in order to save lives and build back better.