Senator Risa Hontiveros announced on a Facebook post dated June 21 the passage of Republic Act 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Law, which aims to “incorporate mental healthcare in the general healthcare system.”

“This law will secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, mental health professionals, provide mental health services down to the barangays, integrate psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals, improve our mental healthcare facilities and promote mental health education in our schools and workplaces,” the Senator wrote.

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Coincidentally, this comes on the heels of the sudden deaths of designer Kate Spade and chef-turned-author Anthony Bourdain in the same week, both of which were ruled as suicides due to depression. Their passing once again put into spotlight the importance of discussing mental health, and encouraged those in need of treatment to ask for help.

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According to Senator Hontiveros, one in five Filipinos suffer from mental disorders, while every day, seven consider suicide. “No longer shall Filipinos suffer silently in the dark. Mental health issues will now cease to be seen as an invisible sickness spoken only in whispers. Finally, #HelpIsHere.”

The Philippine Mental Health Law will push the government to provide mental health education in schools, as well as services “in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals.” Senator Sonny Angara, who co-authored the initial bill, also said that the law charges PhilHealth to include mental health issues in its coverage:

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“Under the Mental Health Act, PhilHealth must ‘ensure insurance packages equivalent to those covering physical disorders of comparable impact are available to patients affected by mental disorders,’ he said in a CNN Philippines Twitter post. “Currently, PhilHealth only covers hospitalization brought about by acute attacks of mental and behavioral disorders at a package rate of P7,800. We hope that in the drafting of the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations – Ed.), free psychiatric consultations and medicines shall be made available for all Filipinos.”

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If you think you may have depression or know someone with depression, you can contact the Department of Health's 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, Hopeline, 804-4637; 0917-5584673; and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers.

You may also call Crisis Line for free and anonymous counseling through: (02) 893-7603, 0917-8001123, or 0922-8938944. You can also join SOS Philippines on Facebook, a support group founded for survivors of suicide loss and Filipinos undergoing mental health ailments like depression and bipolar disorder.

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