#MentalHealthPH Commemorates the Passage of the Mental Health Act of 2018
Two years ago, Republic Act No. 11036 or more known as the Mental Health Act was passed into law – the first mental health legislation ever passed in the Philippines. It is indeed a feat for all advocates and champions from different walks of life including the government, nongovernment, civil societies, and private sector members, among others. While we applaud the massive stakeholders behind this success, the next journey lies ahead – implementation of the law.
Currently, Filipinos especially those with lived experience remain to be confronted with high out-of-pocket expenditure on services and medicines amid a predominantly private sector-led market. To date, access to quality, affordable, and equitable mental health services for every Filipino remains a goal to be fully attained.
Added to this challenge is the rise of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases like COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic proved two salient points: First, mental health should be at the front and center of health emergency response plans. Second, a country’s investment in mental health should be the way forward.
Indeed, there is no universal health care without mental health. As we commemorate the second anniversary of the passage of the Mental Health Act, we enjoin the community to call for more fiscal space for mental health and accelerate its implementation to the grassroots level.
To our local chief executives, we invite your support in localizing the law and allocating budget within your local governments for mental health services. To our national government agencies and policymakers, we encourage your continued guidance in implementing the provisions of the law. To our civil societies and relevant stakeholders, may we keep on championing for more investments in mental health, among others.
Our unwavering collective advocacy serves as a vehicle in sending important messages to our policymakers, decision-makers, and other key stakeholders. Our advocacy should be geared toward policies that transcend at the level of self, of society, and of system. This way, we can ensure that our effort paves the way for policies that translate into actions, and actions that produce measurable results and outcomes.
Now more than ever, it is high time to invest in mental health and streamline mental health services across different health programs. As we rebuild our economies and recover from this pandemic, may we not forget that investing in mental health services brings huge returns to the individuals, the economy, and our society. Time and again, mental health is and should be everyone’s business.