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PIA Press Release
2009/10/15

Local execs urged to prioritize mental health programs

by Rachelle M. Nessia

Dumaguete City (15 October) -- Local chief executives in the province are urged to give attention to mental health issues in their communities.

Erwin William Leyva, nursing coordinator of the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) in a Kapihan forum conducted by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) here lamented that mental health is least prioritized when it comes to health programs implemented in the country.

Leyva stressed that not all barangay health centers have mental health programs while health care personnel are not trained to address mental health concerns.

We need more manpower and funding to address this problem, he said.

Leyva recalls that sometime in 1999, the National Program for Mental Health then was abolished and revived in 2002 to become the National Mental Health Program.

The program then sought to re-orient mental health programs from hospital-based to community-based treatment but was not sustained due to funding constraints.

Previously, the national budget for health for each Filipino was only 45 centavos, lamented Leyva.

It was learned in a survey conducted by the World Health Organization that the Philippines lacks policies pertaining to mental health.

"We don't have laws specifically addressing mental health, only that some aspects of it are just addressed by other laws such as the Dangerous Drugs Act," stressed Leyva, adding that this is further proof that that the mental health of Filipinos is least prioritized.

A study conducted in 1970 show that the prevalence of mental disorders among Filipino adults is around 10.8% to 17%.

However, recent studies show that the prevalence rate range jumped to 25% to 35% or 12 in every thousand population. "This means that for every 100 Filipinos in certain regions in the country, there is one who suffers from mental disorder that may or may not have been diagnosed," said Leyva.

Chapter Executive Manager Aurora Flores in the same forum revealed that a research conducted in the province in 1975 showed that there are many mental health problems here that remain unaddressed.

Mental health cases recorded in the country include psychosis, depression and substance abuse.

Depression is one is one of the top five cause of disability worldwide according to study done by the World Health Organization (WHO). (PIA/rmn) [top]

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