Press Release
June 7, 2020

De Lima welcomes move by Senate Health Committee to address mental health concerns

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is joining the Senate Health Committee in its call to address mental health concerns as the fears and anxieties brought about by COVID-19 continue to take an emotional toll on many Filipinos.

De Lima said that it is correct to give due importance to the mental health needs of the Filipinos as we proceed in our daily struggles with emotional stress, trauma, anxiety, and depression, among others, amid the global health crisis.

"The recent move by the Senate panel to safeguard the Filipino public's physiological wellbeing by holding a public hearing on Senate Bill 1471, which seeks to amend Republic Act 11036 or the 'Mental Health Act', is a step in the right direction," she said.

"It is indeed the government's duty to include mental health measures in its national response plan to address the mental health needs of the Filipino public and include it in its responses against the pandemic," she added.

As early as March 30, or less than a month after Mr. Duterte placed the entire Luzon on an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain the spread of COVID-19, De Lima has already urged the government to look into the effect of the state-imposed restrictions on the mental health of Filipinos.

"Even though Manila already transitioned to general community quarantine last June 1, we know that the uncertainties and anxieties of many people affected by this crisis will not end with just a snap of a finger, especially considering that the vaccine against COVID-19 is not yet available and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is on the rise," she said.

Last May 28, the Senate Committee on Health and Demography tackled SB No. 1471 which seeks to amend the existing Section 5 of the Mental Health Act by inserting a new provision so that the service user shall "immediately receive compensation benefits and/or any special financial assistance that the service user is entitled to under existing laws should the service user sustain temporary or permanent mental disability while in the performance of duty or by reason of his or her office or position."

During the hearing, lawmakers also discussed with experts the services done to address the mental health concerns of the public, such as working with other agencies to look after the mental wellbeing of people, including repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers.

The lady Senator from Bicol also underscored the importance of checking on one another, and making sure that no one carries the emotional burden caused by Covid-19, alone.

"As I've mentioned before, may we not be socially disconnected from one another while we are obliged to keep physical distance from each other," she said.

It can be noted that De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, principally authored and sponsored in the Senate Republic Act 11291 or the Magna Carta of the Poor Act not only to address the basic material needs of the poor but also to address the mental health issues critically affecting them.

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