After its vow to give sufficient attention to mental health care, the Department of Health is eyeing to convert a percentage of the total bed space of every public hospital into a psychiatric ward.

The proposed plan will mean giving more people access to mental health services, especially in rural areas.

Latest statistics show that 18 out of every 100,000 Filipinos have mental health issues, which translates to about 2.3 million people.

In addition, 1 million Filipinos suffer from epilepsy, a neurological disorder which present with seizures, and need medical treatment.

“We are developing strategies to decrease the prevalence of mental illness in the country as more people still have it, triggered by their life experiences, depression, anxiety and among others,” DOH Undersecretary  Maria Francis Laxamana was quoted as saying by the Manila Bulletin.

If plans push through, all of the 70 DOH-run hospitals, more than 700 district and provincial hospitals will have psychiatric wards to handle local cases, said Laxamana, who was guest speaker at the 54th Annual Convention of Psychological Association of the Philippines.

Regional hospitals are likewise required to have a mental health wellness center.

Schizophrenia, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression are the common mental health issues that Filipinos suffer from.

Aside from mental health facilities, the Health department underscored the need for more trained psychiatric professionals to man the psychiatric wards. She further noted that village health workers must be trained in dealing with mental health issues.

“[Village] health workers lack training especially on mental health and it is our challenge to spread the awareness down to the local level,” she said.

A total of Php 1.2 billion has been allocated for the DOH’s health facilities enhancement programme for the conversion of bed space into psychiatric ward, while Php 220 million has likewise been allocated for mental health programme.

In May, the Senate has approved the Mental Health Act of the Philippines, which will integrate mental health programmes into the public health system, so patients can avail of psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic programmes in all regional, provincial and tertiary hospitals nationwide. MIMS

Read more: