by Mayee Gonzales, on category "Personal Finance"
October 17, 2017
Mental health is a growing concern in the Philippines. According to the National Statistics Office, 17 to 20 percent of Filipino adults experience psychiatric problems with schizophrenia as the top mental issue. Suicide caused by mental illnesses is a pressing issue as well. A report from The Philippine Daily Inquirer says that seven Filipinos commit suicide every day.
“Baliw” and “abnormal” are just some of the words Filipinos associate to 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, the Senate approved the Philippine Mental Health Bill in May 2017. The act aims to integrate mental health 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 only 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.
For a complete list of institutions, click here.
Despite the increasing number of mental health facilities in the Philippines, access to professional treatment is still a challenge. Why? Due to 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 P120 per tablet while other anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs can cost as much as P240 each.
The NCMH admits patients who wish to seek advance mental 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. The bad news, though, is that health insurance companies still don’t cover mental health-related consultations and medications.
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 greatly aid individuals who find mental health services costly.
If you know someone suffering from mental issues, be a friend. Listen and encourage that person to seek professional treatment. It’s never too late to help someone in need.