AKSYON Demokratiko vice presidential bet Dr. Willie Ong on Monday said the national government needs to pursue five strategies to address the ongoing mental health crisis in the country.
Among his proposed strategies, Ong said is for the national government to include mental health under the coverage of the state insurance company PhilHealth, promote workplace-based mental health programs, and expand telehealth consultations for mental health issues.
In ensuring that mental health is given proper attention, Ong said the government should also increase its budget for the National Center for Mental Health and appoint a Mental Health Czar. “Pwede mag-appoint ang Presidente ng Mental Health Czar para masabi na urgent na ‘to,” he said.
Ong said mental health issues among Filipinos have become more pronounced due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ngayong pandemic, talagang nakikita kong problema ‘yung mental illness: depression, away sa pamilya,” Ong said during the unveiling of the 10-Point Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda led by Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.
Ong, known for his practical medical tips aired thru Facebook Live and Youtube, lamented the situation of mental health services in the country, saying that many mental health services are not accessible to ordinary Filipinos.
“Dito sa Pilipinas, kung may depression ka, wala kang mapupuntahan. Walang libre,” said the 58-year-old cardiologist and internist.
To address these concerns, the social media personality-medical doctor said the national government needs to implement a widespread information campaign on mental health, provide mental health screenings for vulnerable groups, increase funding for mental health professionals and services, and improve mental health research and surveillance.
Health is a priority among the 10 pillars of the Bilis Kilos Economic Agenda. To improve the country’s health care system, Moreno said his administration will build more public hospitals and health care centers throughout the country, with a target of providing 107,000 additional hospital beds in his first 1,000 days in office.
The 47-year-old presidential aspirant also plans to achieve a ratio of one doctor per 1,000 Filipinos equitably distributed across the country by providing scholarships to 10,000 medical students per year. He also promised to increase the salary of nurses and other healthcare workers.
But foremost will be the rollout of a clear pandemic response roadmap that aims to fully protect all Filipinos against COVID-19 by December 31 of 2022 to open up the economy, and make the country prepared for future pandemics.