QUEZON CITY – The Filipinos’ mental health is now part and parcel of the government’s public health program nationwide.
Capstone-Intel Corporation (Capstone) revealed this in a press conference on Thursday (Nov. 16) in La Condesa Café & Lounge in Quezon City as they released to the members of the media the results of their survey on the mental health condition across the regions of the country.
Atty. Nick A. Conti, chief of public affairs of Capstone and served as legal counsel of various government offices, said “Our organization being evidence-based, we are often releasing the results of a survey and helping the government, especially the non-government organizations (NGOs), which should be included in the survey in order to strengthen their mandate.”
The maiden topic of the media forum was the “Study on the mental well-being of Filipinos: What is and how to move forward”.
“In fact, just this week, we presented to the Department of Health (DOH) the results of a survey with 11 topics on health, which were mentioned on the survey we did,” Conti added.
Among others, the topics included menopause, medical marijuana, tuberculosis, unlicensed nurses, annual checkup, data on private medical insurance, data on GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) members and PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) members.
Conti noted that before 2017, there was really no specific law on mental health in the Philippines.
“There is now the law that is Republic Act No. 11026 that is the ‘National Mental Health Act’ and the importance of this is to inform the Filipinos on what really is the significance of mental health,” he said.
Conti added that the importance of Republic Act 11026 is the integration of the “National Mental Health” whereas before it was not or seemed that the mental health was separate from the basic health services provided by the government.
“The Capstone-Intel Corporation is engaged in evidence-based survey. In fact, the treatment that we are providing to the people suffering from mental ailment should be evidence-based,” Conti said.
He added that “If you yourself you don’t know that there is a mental health issue the reason why there is this survey which will help in the information dissemination about mental health to provide the necessary evidence and what should be done about it.”
“We did a survey with those who have yet to pass the Nursing Board. They should be recognized and be provided with necessary information about their chosen profession,” Conti said.
He added that the information system should be strengthened because only 50 percent of the country’s population are availing of the PhilHealth coverage so that much more Filipinos will benefit from the coverage of the “Universal Health Law” being implemented by PhilHealth.
“The results of this survey show the low treatment on mental health condition because there is also a lack of sufficient number of professionals who are dealing with mental health,” Conti said.
He said that “If before, we are not concerned about the mental health, but now, there is the law, RA 11026 which is mandated to provide confidentiality of data regarding the mental health issue so that the patients will not anymore be discriminated and not to suffer in the end.”
The Capstone chief public affairs and legal counsel assured that they are willing to share with the government the results of the survey.
1,210 Filipino adults were surveyed on awareness and experience on mental health.
Ella Kristina Domingo Coronel, research director, chief public affairs, with expertise on knowledge management and information communication technology, presented to the media during the press conference the results of the survey on the status of mental health condition of Filipinos.
“There is very high awareness of 93%; most have viewed their mental health as good and 15% viewed as fair,” Coronel said.
Coronel said that they surveyed the entire Philippines on what is the prevailing condition of the mental health of Filipinos, adding that, it’s a nationwide data panel survey such that the interviewees were very much willing to respond to the questions.
The Capstone based their survey on the nationwide census such that 51% were male and 49% were female.
The research study also talks about how many have consulted mental health professionals, diagnosis, medication and means to cope and ways to keep mental health healthy.
According to the national census, there were regional distribution of the people.
“Take note that our respondents were online college students, educated people. 60 percent are college graduates, hence, they are salaried. The profile showed who were interviewed in the survey.
“85% had very good mental health. Across the regions, the highest were in Region XI, NCR (National Capital Region, CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region). Among the ailments were Depression, Sleeping Disorder, Bipolar and Anxiety,” Coronel said.
“It’s up to the government and the private sector on how to go about the program on mental health. The male, they are many have Bipolar or Anxiety,” she added.
Coronel said that No. 1 is just okay in professionals, adding that, the annual checkup is expensive, seldom and not accessible.
The four (regions) is low but still 15% which is fair. It’s okay that they are aware of their mental health, which was distributed in the regions.
Coronel said that the majority in the age distribution are 25-34 years of age was 27%; 18-26 years old was 22%; and the the respondents were in the “voting age” already.
“This is also a challenge for the government, especially on how to deal with the poor sector of the society who may be suffering from some mental health issues with the use of evidence data gathering program,” she said.
Prof. Guido David, chief data scientist, cited for an example about the public health to be able to assess on whether what was the problem and was the assistance extended.
“We lack the necessary information available during the Covid-19 pandemic. We would probably do other protocol if we had such an information. We have to be forward such that how to deal with the mental health of the children,” David said.
Admittedly, many Filipinos suffered mental ailments during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic which hit the Philippines from March 15, 2020 until the end of 2022.
“In the past maybe. It’s a different world than it’s now. We should be more pro-active than passive in so far as mental health is concerned,” David said.
The chief data scientist noted that for those employees, a good working condition is very important. It’s a different world now,” he said.
“The government and the private sector should be more analytical in approaching the mental health problem. The survey has advantages and disadvantages. The sampling is not quite the same,” he added. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.