Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched

The Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA) held a fundraising premiere night of the Disney movie, “Finding Dory” at Greenbelt 3 Cinema 2 last June16. With the support of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation, Ayala Cinemas, Disney Pixar and sponsored by Oishi (Liwayway Company Limited) and Carmen’s Best Ice Cream, the proceeds of the event will help support the operations of the HOPELINE, the country’s first and only suicide hotline.

The highlight of the night was the launching of PPA’s mental health act video ad campaign featuring mental health advocates and celebrities like Agot Isidro, Ian Veneracion, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Angel Aquino, Jerika Ejercito, Elsa Payumo, Cheche Lazaro etc. (The video ad can be watched at mhactnow.org)

Also present at the event was the newly appointed Department of Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Rosell Ubial who regarded that, “There is no health, without mental health. Mental health is as vital in our attainment of better health outcomes as any other aspect of Health of Human beings. In the same manner Mental Wellness should be the way to go, rather than treatment for sick individuals, “Prevention is better than cure.”

Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched

She noted that mental illness in our country has been a neglected health problem because of the stigma attached to it, thus families usually hide it and deny members the important interventions that has better chances of cure when detected and managed early in the illness spectrum. We have partnered with NGF more than 6 years ago to ensure the Mind Strong advocacy, what one needs to do to ensure a healthy and “strong” mind to be able to overcome and survive the stresses of daily living in a fast paced society.

Dr. Ubial elaborates that, “We in the health sector, recognize the presence of “Triple Burden of Diseases” that we have here in the Philippines. Triple Burden because No.1 burden of infectious diseases like TB, HIV/AIDS and Malaria, No. 2 burden of Non-Communicable Diseases or diseases due to unhealthy lifestyles like Cardiovascular Diseases, Strokes, Heart Attacks, Diabetes and finally No. 3 burden of injuries including mental illness and self-inflicted injuries and suicide. For the third burden, the understanding on how to prevent these are still in the research and discovery phase, that’s why we need more information and data to develop programs to address this particular health concern.

It has been my battle cry since I joined the Department of Health (DOH), that health should be EVERYONE’s concern…We should all be involved! My neighbor’s ill-health will eventually affect me! Thus, I must not only ensure my own health or that of my family’s, we should work together to ensure the health of all.” Dr. Ubial remarked.

Philippine Psychiatric Association President Dr. Fareda Flores also shared that the Philippine Psychiatric Association has long been aspiring to have a mental health law for so many years. The Philippines is one, if not the only one among the Asian Countries that do not have a mental health law.

Why do we need a Mental Health Bill? We hope that this law will provide a unified response to our people’s mental health needs. It will provide protection of the rights of those with mental illness and their families. We seek that our people, (especially our leaders) be mentally healthy to attain a better quality of life. We envision that every Filipino be entitled to a mental health care. It is a long process to make a bill a reality, but we have reached this far and we are determined to get there.” said Flores.

Ms. Jean Goulbourn, President of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation also remarked that, “NGF tries to bring forward an awareness of what depression is. Through the support of media in shedding light on depression, we can eradicate the stigma society attaches to this curable mental challenge. For the past 6 years, DOH through Dr. Ubial, we were able to work with schools the campus Caravan lectures. We also established the Hopeline in Cebu. We hope in 2017 to reach out to more DepEd teachers in a training program for Wellness and Emotional Resilience for the Filipino youth. We must prevent suicides through education, compassion and love especially from within the family unit and in collaboration with the schools.”

Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched

An online signature petition is also ongoing at mhactnow.org wherein the lack of laws protecting the rights of Filipinos with mental health problems is being tackled. That up to this day, stigma still has a big impact on how the society perceives mental health. Can you imagine that for every 10million Filipinos, there are only 5 psychiatrists available? It also doesn’t help that the national government allocates only 5% of the national budget for the mental well-being of its citizens.

The Mental Health Act was initiated by concerned individuals and organizations from various sectors of the society in order to bring mental health issues into light and the need to address them on a national level by integrating mental health care to the general health care system of the country. Mental health should be made available to every Filipino, wherever they are and regardless of their economic status or conditions in life.

As the wide-eyed, blue tang fish named Dory (Finding Dory movie), who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so, would often say, “When life gets you down, you just have to keep swimming!” And for us, we all know that whenever we feel down, we must keep going, though others tend to lose hope and simply give up on life. But if there will be more mental health professionals and services that can help bail us out of the disabling mental health issues afflicting each and every one of us, then it will also reflect to the nation that eventually will reap the benefits of having mentally and emotionally resilient Filipinos in the long run.

Support the cause and be a mental health advocate! Sign the petition at mhactnow.org and together let’s push for the much needed change for the sake of our mental health and our own dignity as Filipinos.

Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched

Dr. Lou Querubin, Ms. Elsa Payumo, DOH Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial, NGF President Ms. Jean Goulbourn, Ms. Bea Roxas and Ms. Frances Lim

Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched

PPA President Dr. Fareda Flores, DOH Secretary Dr.Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Dr. Lou Querubin

Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched Jasmine Curtis

Philippine Psychiatric Association members and Ms. Jasmine Curtis-Smith

Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched

Signing of the online petition for the Mental Health Act was also available at the event

Shattering the Mental Health Stigma: Philippine Mental Health Act Campaign Launched






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