Despite the rising mental health concerns related to the pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH)’s mental health program will be receiving a smaller budget for 2021.
According to Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje of the Public Health Services Team, the DOH has set aside P615.5 million for medicine access for their mental health program. A P73 billion budget was initially proposed for the project, but not approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Marikina 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo, however, estimated that the 2021 budget per capita would be much smaller than the program’s budget per capita in 2017, which was at ₱12.19.
“Kung i-divide natin sa 108 million na population ngayon, ang lalabas na budget para sa bawat Pilipino ay ₱5.69 lamang po,” she explained.
A policy brief by the United Nations also warned of a mental health crisis that may stem from the pandemic. Families and communities worldwide are suffering from the repercussions of drastic lockdown measures, while people’s existing psychological issues may be exacerbated.[READ: UN issues warning of a possible mental health crisis due to the pandemic]
Despite the budget, Cabotaje noted that the Philippine Council for Mental Health is working to implement RA 11036, which aims to provide accessible mental health services in the country. The agency has also hired contractual staff to assist in the mental health program, while waiting for DBM to authorize DOH’s recruitment of mental health office personnel.
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