Bacolod solon refiles proposed Universities and Colleges Mental Health Act

Published July 13, 2019, 5:26 PM

by Rica Arevalo

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya has batted anew for the passage of a measure seeking to recruit, hire, and train additional university-based mental health personnel.

Bacolod City Rep. Greg Gasataya / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO
(Bacolod City Rep. Greg Gasataya / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Citing the National Center for Mental Health of the Department of Health (DOH), he said the suicide rate in the country is 2.5 for men and 1.7 for women per 100,000 population.

“Despite the alarming state of mental health in the country, there are only 490 psychiatrists for our entire population of more than 100 million and their services remain inaccessible to the poor due to costly consultations,” he said in filing House Bill 573.

In 2012, the DOH estimated more than 2,500 cases of suicide, Gasataya noted.

“The lack of legislation, according to leading psychologists and psychiatrists, may well be among the reasons our suicide rate continues to increase, ” he pointed out.

He said the mental health personnel for tertiary educational institutions remains limited despite the increasing need for mental healthcare among students.

“Improved mental health services would help prevent spiteful incidences among college students and would assist in their holistic development as we eliminate the emotional, behavioral, and psycho-social barriers to learning,” Gasataya said.

House Bill 573 or the proposed Universities and Colleges Mental Health Act of 2019 provides that each state universities and colleges (SUC) shall have at least three psychiatrists and other mental health services, providers.

It tasks the Secretary of Education, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Health to issue the necessary guidelines in the selection, recruitment and hiring of personnel and the nature and the scope of mental health services to be offered 120 days after the effectivity of the proposed Act.

“This proposed Act aims to adequately address the mental, emotional, and development needs of SUC students. It supports school staff and faculty in improving manageability of students, conducting behavioral interventions to improve student discipline, and develop awareness and skills to identify warning signs of need for mental health services,” Gasataya said.

“The measure also seeks to provide support to parents in improving the academic success of their children,” he added.