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The Mental Health Act Of 2017 Gets A Unanimous “YES” In The Senate, And Other DOH News

This week marked a milestone in mental healthcare in the Philippines, as the Mental Health Act was approved in the Senate on the first workday of May 2017.

On May 2, 2017, Senate Bill No 1354 or the Mental Health Act of 2017, filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros on February 17, 2017, was approved by 19 Philippine Senators. There were no negative votes nor abstentions in the deliberation for the bill.

The approval of the Mental Health Act of 2017 comes as a timely victory in the Philippines. An estimated 1 in 5 Filipinos reportedly suffer from a mental disorder. This translates to 20% of

105 million, or around 21 million Filipinos who are mentally ill. In 2012, 2,558 cases of suicide-related deaths were recorded.

Serving this population of 21 million Filipinos is a roster of only 490 psychiatrists, according to a news clip on the DOH website, or 700 psychiatrists, according to a MIMS article.

The approval of the Mental Health Act of 2017 means that medicines specific for mental illness, as well as mental health care services will be made more “accessible, affordable, and equitable” for the Filipino people. A Change.org Petition was started by the Philippine Psychiatric Association in 2014, and it garnered a total of 34,636 supporters. For more details on why the Mental Health Act of 2017 is a major milestone, read Hazel Delgado Planco’s treatise on “Why We Need A Mental Health Law In PH.”


This week, the DOH also dropped the soundbite that “12 million Filipinos are ‘walking time bombs,’ due to the prevalence of hypertension in the country. The statement comes in the launch of the May Measurement Month 2017 (MMM17). MMM17 is targeting being able to screen at least 1.7 million Filipinos for hypertension, as part of the celebration of the 8th National Hypertension Awareness Month.

The government-sponsored free hypertension screenings will be available at local health centers, rural health units, as well as government hospitals. Read More on the DOH Website, and on Inquirer.net.


Aside from the kickoff of the MMM2017 and the approval of the Mental Health Act of 2017, the DOH has other events planned for May:
  • Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
  • Road Safety Month
  • Hypertension Awareness Month
  • Safe Motherhood Week (2nd Week of May)
  • AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day (5/21/2017)
  • World No Tobacco Day (5/31/2017)
Things are getting exciting for the DOH, as it starts to tackle more issues and concerns proactively.

Photo Credits: Change.org #MHActNow Petition, Inquirer.net, DOH.gov.ph

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