December 7, 2022

The city council called on the Local Finance Committee to study the possibility of increasing the budget for the city’s mental health program to efficiently address the rising number of suicide cases and mental health issues in the city brought about by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier, the city council approved the supplemental budget in the amount of P94.29 million to augment the funds of the city for its Covid-19 operations.

Among the programs it will fund is mental health care and wellness program with an earmarked amount of P201,450.

Several council members, however, said the amount is not sufficient to fortify the city’s mechanism against various mental health problems besetting a portion of the Baguio populace.

The council approved a resolution stating its call during its regular session on Oct. 18.

The City Social Welfare and Development Office reported there were 19 confirmed suicide cases in the city for the first semester of 2021 compared to 24 for the entire 2020. 

CSWDO Deputy Head Liza Bulayungan said the age of these 19 individuals ranged from 20 to 30 years old.

As reflected in the reports of the City Health Services Office there has been a surge in mental illness and disorder cases since the onset of the pandemic.

City Health Services Officer Rowena Galpo said there is only one city-hired mental health coordinator who oversees all mental health-related activities and programs in the city.

Agreeing with the councilors, Galpo admitted the city government lacks personnel for the implementation of the city’s mental health program.

Councilors Levy Lloyd Orcales, Joel Alangsab, and Vladimir Cayabas advised Galpo to consider hiring more nurses who specialize on dealing with people with mental health issues and personnel to be able to carry out the program’s objective.

Orcales and Alangsab are the main authors of the mental health ordinance which seeks to establish a community-based program aimed at curbing the emergence of mental health problems in the city.

The ordinance aims to provide responsive, socio-culturally appropriate, context-based, and timely mental health services at the community, school, and hospital level to address the needs of the individuals with psychological, mental health, and psychiatric concerns.

Orcales said the city government must adequately employ more mental health nurses and personnel to effectively deliver the services the city ordinance promises to offer to the citizens. – Jordan G. Habbiling