COTABATO CITY – Bangsamoro lawmakers have taken a significant step in prioritizing the mental health and well-being of the Bangsamoro people by introducing a measure seeking to establish the Bangsamoro Council for Mental Health.
The Council will be dedicated to addressing the growing concerns surrounding mental health and providing comprehensive support and services to its constituents.
Members of the Parliament Atty. Rasol Mitmug Jr., Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr., and Dr. Hashemi Dilangalen, have introduced Parliament Bill No. 193.
Under the bill, the council will play a pivotal role in formulating, planning, and recommending programs, projects, and policies aimed at improving the mental health and well-being of the Bangsamoro people.
Attached to the Ministry of Health, this council will oversee the implementation and protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals with psychiatric, neurologic, and psychosocial needs.
It will also ensure the delivery of rational, unified, and integrated mental health services tailored to the specific needs of the Bangsamoro region.
One significant aspect of the mental health plan to be implemented in the Bangsamoro region is the integration of Islamic mental health awareness. By incorporating Islamic principles into mental health initiatives, the council seeks to provide a culturally sensitive and inclusive approach to mental well-being.
The need for such a council has become increasingly urgent as recent reports have highlighted the concerning state of mental health in the region.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority for 2020, suicides have risen by 57%, with 4,420 reported cases of self-harm.
Previously ranked 31st, suicide has now climbed to the 25th position on the list of leading causes of death in the Philippines. Additionally, one in ten Filipino young adults has experienced some form of depression.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis, with lockdowns, unemployment, and economic losses severely affecting individuals’ ability to cope with mental illnesses.
The Department of Health reported that at least 3.6 million Filipinos were battling mental health issues earlier this year, including depression, alcohol use disorders, and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, one in three COVID-19 patients was diagnosed with neuropsychiatric conditions six months after contracting the virus.
Recognizing that mental health is a crucial component of public health, the authors stressed that addressing the mental health needs of the Bangsamoro people should be an integral part of the government’s economic recovery plan.
They emphasized that happiness and mental well-being are vital factors contributing to an individual’s functionality and active participation in society.
The proposed Bangsamoro Council for Mental Health holds several powers and functions, including developing a regional multi-sectoral strategic plan for mental health, monitoring the implementation of rules and regulations, evaluating the impact of interventions, and coordinating with ministries, local government units, and non-government organizations, among other responsibilities.
The bill is co-authored by Deputy Speaker Atty. Laisa Alamia, Atty. Suharto Ambolodto, Rasul Ismael, Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, Engr. Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, Amilbahar Mawallil, Eddie Alih, Atty. John Anthony Lim, Tarhata Maglangit, Atty. Randolph Parcasio, Atty. Ishak Mastura, Bassir D. Utto, Ibrahim Ali, and Abdullah E. Gayak. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)