September 11, 2019
Sen. Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano called for a stronger implementation of the Mental Health Act, as the country joined the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday,
Cayetano said the annual event sheds light on the need to address high suicide rates across the globe by providing mental health patients with better support and reinforcement.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one person dies of suicide every 40 seconds. The Philippines, in particular, has one of the highest cases of depression in Southeast Asia, affecting more than 3 million Filipinos.
Suicide, according to WHO, is also the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29.
“We have to step up our policies on suicide prevention if we want to protect our youth and guarantee a better future for them. Sometimes all it really takes to save a life is to listen and offer them support,” the senator said.
The lawmaker said in previous years, mental health conditions such as depression were not even covered by the health insurance system.
“Now, we actually have a stronger law on mental health. I hope this boosts our efforts in taking care of our people’s emotional, psychological and social well-being,” added Cayetano, who authored Republic Act (RA) 11036 or the “Mental Health Act of 2019.”
RA 11036 mandates the establishment of a more holistic approach to mental health care in the country by incorporating comprehensive mental health services into the Philippine national health system.
Cayetano stressed that a vital component of the law is ensuring that patients suffering from mental illnesses would have proper access to helplines and support groups that could help them cope with their conditions.
“It’s so important for us to continue taking action in responding to the needs of Filipinos in mental health crises. We can do this by giving them a safe space where they can get proper information and counseling, and more importantly, where they can feel that they are not alone,” she said.
The senator then called on the Department of Health to make sure that its suicide prevention hotlines are always available for those who need help.
The Health department recently launched its own National Center for Mental Health crisis hotline, which can be reached at 0917 899 8727 (USAP) and 989 8727 (USAP), and is operated 24/7.
“I believe that in every call received by these USAP hotlines, one person’s life can be saved. And so I encourage our Health department to make sure that such initiative is sustainable,” Cayetano said.
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