DOH and WHO Launch Five-year Plan for Mental Health Services in the Philippines

WHO DOH Mental Health Services

The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) proposed the Philippine Council for Mental Health (PCMH) Strategic Framework 2024-2028 to confront the challenges posed by mental illness in the country. This was in partnership with World Health Organization (WHO).

The (PCMH) Strategic Framework 2024-2028 is a five-year program to develop mental health services in the country. It will act as a roadmap to enhance Filipinos’ mental health and overall well-being by informing the creation and execution of mental health policies, programs, and services. The five-year plan is a substantial initiative in dealing with mental health issues.

The Goal

The five-year strategic plan was launched to decrease premature mortality, improve the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, and lower the susceptibility of individuals and communities to mental, neurological, and substance use disorders.

Dr. Rui Paulo De Jesus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative of the country also said that with the strategic framework, they are dedicated to applying strategies that prioritise fairness, granting every citizen access to universal healthcare and cultivating resilient healthcare systems that are responsive to the mental health and well-being of all individuals in the country.

Additional Initiatives

The DOH also intends to expand the PhilHealth Mental Health Benefit Package. The package includes 12 consultations, diagnostic follow-ups, psychoeducation, and psychosocial support available through mental health outpatient facilities at medicine access sites.

In addition, the government has implemented initiatives across various government agencies and educational institutions to enhance the development of mentally healthy communities. 78,449 private establishments now have mental health workplace policies in place to safeguard the well-being of their employees. Additionally, 54 hospitals offer ‘behavioural nudges’ to assist healthcare workers in managing stress. Also, 273 last-mile elementary schools are actively participating as implementation sites. They carry out a comprehensive array of mental health measures as part of the Healthy Learning Institutions (HLI) Framework.

Partner in Hands

Health Secretary Teodoro J. Herbosa recognised the other agencies that made the PCMH Mental Health Strategic Framework possible by saying, “I have a strong belief that we can effectively tackle a broader range of mental health issues within our country. We can successfully implement all the strategies outlined in the new five-year strategic framework. This is done with the active involvement of all collaborating agencies within the PCMH and the guidance provided by the WHO.”

The WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health backing the PCMH promotes additional essential factors for progressive mental health services in the country. It upholds the fundamental mental health rights of Filipinos. This is the execution of mental health policies, reinforcement of patient navigation and referral processes. Moreover, it laid out the establishment of the Mental Health Internal Review Board. Additionally, it provides training to media organisations in ethical and responsible coverage and representation of suicide.

Mental Health Services Improvements

The Mental Health Act was enacted in 2018. Since then, the Philippines has significantly expanded mental health services and the availability of essential medicines. In 2022, there are now 362 access sites across the country. These provide 30 different mental health medications, benefiting 124,246 service users. 

The DOH has further enhanced the care provided at a primary level. They trained both healthcare and non-healthcare professionals in mental health. This is done through the ongoing implementation of the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) in local government units. Additionally, the National Center for Mental Health has established 24/7 crisis hotlines.

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