QC launches more mental health programs

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte announced on Saturday, Feb. 4, that the city government has implemented more mental health programs in the city.

“As early as last year, we have extended assistance to public schools by hiring justly compensated mental health professionals like therapists and counselors who will recognize mental health warning signs early on and provide short-term counseling and crisis interventions,” said Belmonte.

The city government said its reports show increasing numbers of students being diagnosed with mental health illnesses, prompting the local government to boost its efforts in developing programs to curb the rise in cases.

Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Dex Galvan said 404 public school learners took their own lives and 2,147 others attempted to.

The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) also said that there is a significant increase in suicide incidents over the past five years, with an average of 96 incidents in the city annually.

Belmonte added that the city government has established "Mental Wellness Access Hubs" in each city district, which will offer free prescriptions and medicines to persons with mental health disabilities.

Mental health specialists at the hub also assess patients who do not have prescriptions.

The local government also hired more mental health professionals to be assigned in different sectors, like the persons with disability affairs office (PDAO), to help contribute to policy-making, program conceptualization, and mental health care facilities for disadvantaged and marginalized patients.

In November, a total of 5,154 PDAOs were recorded to have mental and psychosocial disabilities, which comprises 23 percent of the 22,000 registered PDAOs in the city.

Meanwhile, the QC Council also approved and confirmed the implementation of City Ordinance No. SP-3158, S-2022, or the Quezon City Mental Health Code which localizes the National Mental Health Act or the protection of rights among patients, including freedom from discrimination, abuse, and the right to aftercare and rehabilitation.

The ordinance aims to focus on mental health education among all local service providers, assistance expansion in Mental Wellness Access Hubs, the establishment of a 24/7 mental health hotline, construction of a "Mental Health Half-way Home" or the temporary housing facility for patients, and an information and referral network that aims to pool all mental health professionals and patients within and outside the city.

This referral network will serve as an easy and fast contact to assist and administer all specialists, social workers, carers, patients, and their families, the city government said.