IRR for Mental Health Act signed

MANILA--The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday signed the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 11036, otherwise known as the Mental Health Act, which was signed into law on June 20, 2018 and took effect on July 5, that same year. 

The law aims to establish a national mental health policy directed towards improving the health of the population in schools, workplaces and communities, underscoring the basic right of all Filipinos to mental health. It also highlights the balanced delivery of mental health services (community-based and hospital-based) with more focus on persons with psychiatric, neurologic, and psychosocial health needs, and overcoming society’s attitudinal challenges that they may live free from stigma and discrimination.

The IRR is a result of several public consultations and productive discussions with different government agencies which include the Department of Education, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, TESDA, Commission on Higher Education, Commission on Human Rights, as well as champions at the Lower and Upper Houses of Congress, and medical associations.

“The DOH fully supports the implementation of this IRR to attain the vision of the National Mental Health Act of a responsive and compassionate health system,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III remarked.

The law grants protection to persons availing psychiatric, neurologic and psychosocial health services by recognizing their right to access evidence-based mental health services at all levels of the national health care system free from stigma and discrimination; their family members, caregivers, or appointed legal representatives by recognizing their right to receive appropriate psychosocial support and participate in all activities involving the service user; while reinforcing the mental health professional’s right to a safe and supportive environment, and to participate in continuous professional development programs.

The law establishes the Philippine Council for Mental Health (PCMH) a policy-making advisory body, mandated to develop a national multi-sectoral strategic plan mental health and to ensure its implementation through a`` monitoring and evaluation of policies and guidelines.

The Council is chaired by the DOH, with other government agencies such as the Departments of Education, Labor and Employment, Interior and Local Government, the Commissions on Human Rights (CHR), and Higher Education, as members. More importantly, sectoral representatives from the academe/research, medical or health professional groups and non-government organizations involved in mental health issue will form part of the Council.

The local government units shall promote community- and recovery-based approaches, and the delivery of culturally-appropriate mental health care services, including the development of guidelines (in coordination with the DOH) to ensure the provision of community mental health services within one year after the effectivity of the IRR.

“This is a great step towards tackling the growing issue of mental illness in the Philippines. I want to thank the President for his unwavering commitment to supporting Filipinos living with mental illness. I also want to thank the key stakeholders who helped in the passage of the law and in completing the IRR,” Secretary Duque concluded.