CHR seeks wider mental health coverage; lauds DSWD’s launch of WiSUPPORT

Published June 14, 2021, 4:13 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Commission on Human Rights

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged a wider mental health coverage in the country as it lauded the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its WiSUPPORT, the Wireless Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Individuals and Families Affected by COVID-19 and other Crisis Situations.

Through Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia, the CHR said the DSWD’s online mental and psychosocial program for vulnerable sectors is a “commendable step” in addressing the rising mental health concerns brought about by the pandemic.

The DSWD had said that through the program, overseas Filipinos in distress, children in need of special protection, senior citizens, women in especially difficult circumstances, persons with disability (PWDs), family heads, and adults in need will be connected with psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health institutions for proper support.

It tapped the Department of Health (DOH) and National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) to ensure that appropriate care and services will be provided to those experiencing mental distress.

De Guia said that the Mental Health AWhereness PH mapping integrated into WiSUPPORT platforms is also an innovative idea that will help clients and service providers locate nearby agencies providing mental health services.

She said: “The CHR recognizes and supports this effort of the DSWD to ensure coverage and accessibility of psychosocial support for vulnerable sectors and individuals. The consequences of the pandemic on the mental health of the citizens, particularly the aforementioned sectors, necessitate proactive and targeted mental health services such as WiSUPPORT.”

The CHR has lamented what it called as lengthy government-imposed lockdowns which have caused anxiety among Filipinos, especially those who suffer from health concerns and prolonged economic insecurity.

It expressed hopes that the DSWD’s program will pave the way for wider mental health coverage for all regardless of location and socio-economic situation, and will be sustained even after the COVID-19 crisis has been dealt with.

“While the program is only at its pilot stage in National Capital Region, Central Visayas, and CARAGA Region, we look forward to its nationwide implementation to be able to meet the urgent need for psychosocial services across the country,” De Guia said.

“Beyond the pandemic, sustainability of this program remains crucial to maintain regular mental health services during the period of recovery and to normalize it as a staple health service,” she added.