The World Health Organization (WHO) cited the need to take on a whole-of-government approach in tackling mental health.
In his opening speech during the celebration of World Health Day at the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, the organization’s regional director Dr. Shin Young-soo called on the government to strengthen its health services for people with mental illnesses.
Shin stressed that mental health is not strictly a health issue but is also a societal issue.
“We encourage the adoption of what we call a whole-of-government approach. This is because properly addressing depression and the hurtful stigma associated with it requires all sectors of government and all of society involved,” he added.
Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Ubial, in a press conference after the event, said a total of PHP1 billion has been allocated for upgrading and developing 12 mental health centers across the country.
“For so long, these facilities have not been improved and only this year have we allocated PHP1 billion to actually improve these facilities,” Ubial said.
She said the DOH is already gearing more toward depression prevention rather than treatment, as it tries to scale up its “preventive-promotive strategies” for mental health.
“We’re trying to address the issues of mental health and depression by actually moving into the prevention rather than the treatment because we know that prevention is better than cure. It is more cost-effective,” Ubial said.
The health chief highlighted inter-agency efforts on preventive-promotive mental health programs, such as teaming up with the Department of Education to incorporate emotional resiliency in the curriculum on life skills, as well as implementing workplace-based interventions together with the Department of Labor and Employment.
Furthermore, the health department also has a community-based mental health program that capacitates front-line health workers to detect possible mental issues among the population and provide mental health first aid.
“These are the things that we are doing, and we are improving also in terms of health promotion. (We are) trying to remove the stigma of mental illness so that people will come out and access services,” she added. (PNA)