Press Release
January 31, 2017

Hontiveros tells millennials struggling with mental health: 'You are not alone'

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Saturday night discussed mental health issues with millennials and netizens over social media platform Twitter.

The Senator hosted the 'Twitter convo' for #HealthXPH and elaborated her proposal to integrate mental health in the public healthcare system through Senate Bill No. 1190 or the Philippine Mental Health Act. The topic trended on Saturday night for several hours.

Hontiveros, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, recalled her meet with young people with mental health needs only to find out later that one committed suicide.

"Met w/ some young people w/ mental health needs. Found out later that one took own life. It broke my heart. Will fight for this #HealthXPH", the Senator posted.

Late last year, a student from the De La Salle University-Manila jumped atop one of the school buildings. The student was known to have struggled with academic requirements. "It's a rising epidemic among the youth", Hontiveros expressed. "It's time we discuss mental health not in hushed voices so that people can come out for help", she added.

According to the National Youth Commission, 2 in 5 young people have thought that "life is not worth living" and 1 in 5 have had suicidal thoughts and took steps towards it.

Hontiveros sees stigma as one of the causes that drive Filipinos to desperation and away from seeking help. "Stigma comes from not understanding mental health completely. Mental health ed is needed. Passage ofPhilMentalHealthAct #HealthXPH @giasison", the Akbayan Senator tweeted.

"Mental health disorders are seen as "pag dra'drama". MENTAL DISORDERS ARE REAL, PEOPLE. STOP SAYING THAT WE'RE BEING DRAMATIC. #HealthxPH", quipped user @jamiexlb.

Role of Schools and Barangays Sought

The Akbayan Senator proposes an integration of mental health in schools and communities. "Schools should integrate mental health services. Guidance counsellors & teachers must be equipped. So should bgy health workers #HealthXPH", the Senator furthered on Twitter.

"We also need people working in the community setting. MH services must not be too hospital-centric. #HealthxPH #MHActNow", also quipped Twitter user @rjnaguitskona, while Dr. @giasison suggested "@risahontiveros Maybe including mental health education in the #mhact will help Mam #healthxph".

Hontiveros said that with the passage of the mental health act, it will amplify services in barangays and schools for mental health needs and will be part of the government's healthcare infrastructure.

"Our currency in this struggle is hope", Hontiveros said. "1 in 5 Filipinos are suffering from a form of mental health issue. I am telling them that, with this bill, help is on the way. No one should live in fear or in silence anymore", she concluded.

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