June 20, 2024

The municipal council of Kabayan, Benguet has passed an ordinance that seeks to strengthen the creation of a community-based approach to its mental health program. 

The ordinance, based on Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act, seeks to provide community and resilience-based approaches and the delivery of culturally-appropriate mental health care services.

“As a growing concern of the country and the municipality, there is a need to deinstitutionalize mental health care services from solely hospital-based to community-based where it will promote social participation and recovery-based approaches through continuous human interaction,” the ordinance stated. 

It states the municipality shall have integrated primary health care services that include the building up of all barangay health workers, nurses, midwives, and medical officers in the mental health care training in coordination with the Department of Health and other agencies.

There shall also be mental health services at the health centers that shall  have an evaluation, management and referral system to psychiatric hospitals for case management; continuous psychosocial support to the families of identified mental health patients by the Municipal Health Services Office; coordination with the drug rehabilitation center for those suffering from drugs or alcohol-induced mental behaviors; and integration of the referral system with other health, medical, and social welfare programs of the municipality and other agencies.

Also, mental health care shall be given to victims of sexual abuse, violence against women and children, child abuse, and other children in need of special protection, such as counseling and psychological treatment.

The ordinance shall be applied to all persons in the municipality who are in need of psychiatric, neurologic, and psycho-social health services or suffering from substance abuse or other forms of addiction, as well as developmental care wellness programs on autism.

The Kabayan Mental Health Council shall be created as the advisory body to the municipal council and may serve as the policy-making body that shall craft a comprehensive mental health care and development wellness system.

The mental health council, chaired by the mayor, shall be composed of allied professionals on mental health, local government officials, and non-government organizations.

The council shall integrate an age, gender, culturally and ethnically-appropriate mental health program in all schools in the municipality, and ensure mental health promotion in the public and private educational institutions and work environment shall be complemented with qualified mental health professionals. 

It shall also coordinate with partner organizations the formulation community resilience and psychosocial well-being training, during and after natural disaster, extreme negative experiences and other calamities.

The council shall also integrate mental health care services in the basic health care services to ensure that mental health care services are provided in primary health care facilities, hospitals, jails, workplace and other private health institutions.

Further, the council shall refer clients to mental health facilities, professionals, workers and other service providers for appropriate care; develop and endorse mental health research agenda; and enhance and evaluate the municipality’s mental health program.

The ordinance also calls for the observance of Mental Health Month every second of October every year, covering all institutions such as schools and workplaces, which shall integrate activities that promote mental health.

To reach the grassroots, the community-based information campaign shall be implemented with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials undergoing mental health awareness forum to become a responder and an advocate on mental health awareness.

The ordinance shall ensure the correction of stigma and discrimination associated with mental health disability conditions.

The clients of the MHSO and all other mental health institutions in the town shall also be treated with confidentiality. – Ofelia C. Empian