Press Release
June 14, 2018


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the Mental Health Bill into law, saying that the measure will save lives. The Senator made the appeal amid the growing number of suicides in the country, particularly among young Filipinos, and recently, the tragic deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.

"Let's have a policy that actually saves lives. So many Filipinos need this measure. So many of our countrymen and women from all walks of life suffer in silence and need our help. It's about time we answered the call," Hontiveros said.

The Mental Health Bill, which was authored by Hontiveros, passed the Senate in May of 2017. The House of Representatives passed its own version of the measure in 2017. The bill's final version was ratified by the Senate in February of this year and awaits the President's signature.

Hontiveros said that figures revealed that depression is the most common mental health problem worldwide, with over 300 million people suffering from it. Estimates peg the lost productivity due to depression to amount to 1 trillion US dollars per year. In 2015, suicide was the leading cause of death in the world among 15 to 29 year olds.

"In 2012 alone it was found that as many as seven (7) Filipinos committed suicide daily. The Global School-Based Student Health Survey (GSHS) of 2015 reported that 17% of high school students in the Philippines aged 13-15 said they had attempted suicide at least once. Twelve percent said they had seriously considered attempting suicide, while 11% said they have made plans on how they would commit suicide," Hontiveros said.

In need of facilities and capacity building

Hontiveros said that the country currently has 60 psychiatric healthcare facilities. The National Center for Mental Health, the nation's largest government hospital providing mental health care services, has a current bed capacity of 4,200. Only about 7% of all public and private hospitals have a psychiatric unit or ward, and there currently the country operates with a ratio of only two mental health workers per 100,000 people.

"The figures speak for themselves. But more than the numbers are the lives that need help right now. Mental health struggles can be found in all walks of life and at any age. And for far too long, the State has not had a dedicated system in place to address this need. Many of our mental health statistics are grossly underreported, and that's because of the stigma and the fear that surrounds the very real issue of mental health," Hontiveros stressed

"People shouldn't have to be afraid to come out in the open and seek help. And this is our opportunity to step up and respond. Not only to help those who struggle now, but to protect the mental health of all Filipinos in the future," Hontiveros said.

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