Today, we celebrate as President Duterte signs the Mental Health Law. It’s about time that we finally recognize that mental health is a part of our rights as humans.
The stigma against mental health is apparent in the Philippines. For years, advocates, professionals, and lawmakers have been fighting for mental health to be integrated into the public healthcare system.
And as the law is finally passed, it opens up the opportunity for people with mental illness a chance to be treated. This law gives people the fairness of having the same treatment as those who have physical illnesses, with more accessible and affordable mental health services for Filipinos.
But like any other laws, the implementation doesn’t happen overnight. The fight doesn’t end there.
We have to keep being the watchdog for real change. And it starts with monitoring the government and the non-government agencies concerned with securing the rights and welfare of people with mental help needs.
The author and principal sponsor, senator Risa Hontiveros, said that the law would also provide mental health services down to the barangays; integrate psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals; improve the country’s mental health care facilities; and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.
We also shouldn’t forget that the battle doesn’t just start and end with mental health. Because a huge part of being healthy mentally is to be in a safe social environment. As one society, we should practice acceptance and social justice.
A big wave starts with a small ripple. It starts with you.