House approves comprehensive mental health bill

The passage of this bill into law will seal the government's commitment to promote mental health services to Filipinos who need it

With 223 affirmative votes, zero negatives, and no abstention, the House of Representatives (HoR) greenlights on third and final reading  House Bill No. 6452 otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Mental Health Act of 2017” which is the bill seeking to establish a national mental health policy to enhance the delivery of mental health services in the country.

The proposal aims to integrate mental health care in the general health delivery system, especially the programs of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the mentally disabled persons.

Under the bill, every person shall have the right to the best available mental health care, which shall be part of the health and social care and protection system.

This means that every person suffering from a mental illness shall have the right to receive humane treatment and also the right not to be discriminated on the ground of mental illness.

The study of mental health shall be introduced and integrated into both elementary and secondary educational systems to prevent depression, obesity and teenage pregnancy among students.

The bill mandates the DOH to develop a National Mental Health Care Services Delivery System, which shall constitute a quality mental health care program as well as a nationwide mental health information and education program.

The said program shall be done in close coordination with, and active involvement of, persons with disabilities and their respective organizations, and other users of mental health facilities and services, including their careers, and mental health professionals.

Furthermore, the bill seeks the reconstitution and strengthening of the Philippine Mental Health Council as an attached agency under the DOH to provide for a coherent, rational and unified response to mental health problems, concerns, and efforts.

The bill also provides mental health services and facilities to those who avail the voluntary submission program for drug dependents.

The Senate earlier passed its version of the measure in May 2017.