December 10, 2022

The Benguet provincial board has passed an ordinance establishing a community-based mental health program in the province, as it recognizes the role that the community provides for the mental health well-being of a person.

“Patient care continues beyond institutional facilities, which must be made available in health centers and homes, and relevant health care activities and interventions must be done closest to where the need or the patient is,” the ordinance reads.

The ordinance has cited Republic Act 7277, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Person, which states there is a need to include mental health in the public health and hospital system in order to render available, accessible, affordable, and equitable quality mental health care and services especially to the poor, underserved, and high-risk population.

The ordinance provides that mental health shall be included within the primary health care system in the community; there shall be mental health care programs on capacity building for local health workers, teachers, and different sectors in the community; continuous support services and interventions for families and co-workers; and advocacy and promotion for mental health awareness among the general population including public schools.  

Mental health professional workers shall also undergo continuous capacity building, reorientation and training in close coordination with the department of psychiatry in general hospitals, university hospitals or mental health facilities. 

Further, there shall be research and development in collaboration with academic institutions, mental health associations and non-government organizations to develop appropriate and culturally relevant mental health services in the community.

The ordinance also eyes to establish a mental health facility in the province.

The BeGH shall manage, administer, and implement the delivery of the health care delivery services that includes the mental health care program.

Also, a psychiatric service shall be created in the BeGH that will provide: short term in-patient hospital care for those with acute psychiatric symptoms in a small psychiatric ward; partial hospital care for those with psychiatric symptoms or undergoing difficult personal and family circumstances; out-patient clinic in close collaboration with the mental health program at the primary health centers in the area, and referral system with other health and social welfare program, among others. 

To implement the ordinance, the Benguet Mental Health Board shall be established to provide a consistent, rational and unified response to mental health problems. It shall formulate and review policies and guidelines on mental health issues and concerns.

An appropriation of P1 million shall be made to implement the ordinance. – Ofelia C. Empian