by Mayee Gonzales, on category "Personal Finance"
October 17, 2017
This article was originally published on October 17, 2017 and was updated on October 9, 2019.
Mental health is a growing concern in the Philippines. According to the Department of Health (DOH), at least 19 million Filipinos experience psychiatric problems, with schizophrenia as the top mental issue. Suicide caused by mental illnesses is a pressing issue as well. the DOH also says at least three men and two women commit suicide for ever 100,000 people.
“We need to start talking about depression to end the stigma surrounding mental health because, when left unattended, it can lead to suicide,” the DOH said in a statement. Mental health affects everyone: rich and poor, celebrities and laypeople, children and adults alike. And when it comes for you and your loved ones, you should know how to deal with it.
“Baliw” and “abnormal” are just some of the words Filipinos associate with mental health. It’s easy to brush off depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses since we don’t see them. However, we need to understand that mental illness is real; it’s not something that goes away after a good night’s sleep.
Fortunately, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippines Mental Health Bill into law in 2018. Authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, the act aims to integrate psychiatric services and programs in the public health system to support Filipinos suffering from mental illnesses. This also paves the way for a clearer understanding of mental health in the Philippines.
At present, there are around 60 psychiatric facilities, 700 psychiatrists, and 1,000 psychiatric nurses in the Philippines. Most of them are based in the National Capital Region since majority of mental institutions are located in Metro Manila. The government currently runs the following mental facilities in the country:
Private hospitals such as the University of Santo Tomas, Makati Medical Center, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, and Metro Psychotherapy Facility also offer mental care services. Nearby provinces like Bulacan, Laguna, and Rizal have its fair share of mental facilities, too.
Despite the increasing number of mental health facilities in the Philippines, access to professional treatment is still a challenge. Why? Because of expensive treatment costs.
In Metro Manila, a session with a private psychiatrist costs P2,000 to P3,000. Depending on the case, a patient may visit once or twice a month. Medication is quite expensive, too. Known brands such as Xanax and Prozac cost around P130 per tablet while other anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs can cost as much as P300 each.
The National Center for Mental Health admits patients who wish to seek advance psychological health treatments. Here are their rates:
Good news: PhilHealth now offers mental health packages. The government-owned corporation covers fees for consultations with psychiatrists. Members can avail it just like any medical treatment. Some health insurance companies also cover mental health-related consultations and medications, but all of them should start offering mental health coverage.
This is something that corporations and government institutions need to address. In the meantime, Filipinos who wish to seek financial assistance for mental health treatments can rely on personal loans for medical bills. A secured medical plan can certainly aid individuals who find mental health services costly.
While mental health costs can get pricey, there are institutions in the Philippines that offer free mental health consultations for everyone. If you have mental issues you’re too ashamed to disclose with your loved ones, this is your chance to talk with an expert on how to properly address them.
In May 2019, DOH also launched a nationwide mental crisis hotline, in partnership with the National Center for Mental Health. The hotline is open 24/7 for those in need of emergency counseling or treatment.
“The hotline aims to send a message to those with mental health issues that they are not alone. It’s okay to not be okay. There is hope. Recovery is possible and there should be no shame in getting help,” DOH Secretary Fransico Duque III said about the hotline. Here are the numbers you need to remember:
If you know anyone suffering from mental issues, be a friend. Never dismiss their concerns like most people. Rather, hear them out and encourage them to seek professional treatment. It’s never too late to help someone in need. Likewise, if you’re currently suffering from any mental illness, don’t be afraid to seek help. You will certainly feel better once you talked to someone, or at least have your concerns heard by a professional.