Pia wants stronger implementation of Mental Health Act

“If we could save one life just by listening, then by all means, we should be all ears.”

Senator Pia S. Cayetano had this message for the entire Filipino community on the observance of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday, September 10.

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 three million Filipinos. 

Moreover, the WHO said suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years.

“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. 

Cayetano pointed out that in previous years, mental health conditions such as depression were not even covered by our 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 11036 or the Mental Health Act of 2019.

RA 11036 mandates the establishment of a more holistic approach to mental healthcare 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 will have proper access to helplines and support groups that can 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 counselling, and more importantly, where they can feel that they are not alone,” she said.

The senator then called on the Department of Health (DOH) to make sure that their suicide prevention hotlines are always available for those who need help. 

The DOH recently launched its own National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) crisis hotline, which can be reached at 0917 899 8727 (USAP) and 989 8727 (USAP) 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. #

Sen. Pia S. Cayetano: The World Suicide Prevention Day sheds light on the need to provide mental health patients with better support and reinforcement.