The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Puerto Princesa City on Monday passed an ordinance providing for the establishment of a facility for mental health patients.

Puerto Princesa City Vice Mayor Ma. Nancy Socrates hailed the ordinance as a landmark legislation.

“It was during the 15th council when we were approached by Fr. Eugene Elivera, who chairs the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) Palawan Chapter and that was how it started,” Socrates said in an interview with the media.

“It was during the pandemic when the problem [about mental health] rose so the concern was also raised. Alam naman nating lahat na the brain controls our entirety so kung hindi ok yung mind, it follows na hindi rin ok yung physical na pangangatawan mo so important that we have a healthy mind,” she added.

Furthermore, Socrates said the ordinance was in compliance with Republic Act (RA) 11036 or the Mental Health Act of the Philippines which establishes the enhancement of delivery of integrated mental health services and RA 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons that requires the inclusion of mental health care in public health and hospital systems.

“This will also serve as mitigation and there will be a program to have regular interaction with the communities to address mental health issues,” she said.

She also emphasized the importance of the establishment of a community-based mental health program saying that it is from the community where the problem needs to be addressed.

“The ordinance will facilitate the integration of mental health to other health services to the barangays. Right now what we bring are only basic services so this will make sure that mental health will also be delivered,” Socrates said.

Under the ordinance, psychosocial services that include counseling and diagnosis will be available as well as medicines.

The vice mayor also said stressed the need for the establishment of a mental health facility in the city because the current drop-in center in Barangay San Pedro is already old and is no longer conducive to patient and might make their condition worse.

“Actually, my dream is one with complete services – diagnosis or at least consultations and then if a patient needs treatment, they will be housed that will make them better,” she explained.

“I haven’t visited our facility lately but the last time that I saw it, feeling ko hindi na gagaling yung mga pasyente doon,” she said.

Furthermore, she said with the enactment of the ordinance, mental health issues will be addressed properly considering the dilemma that patients or their relatives face with the stereotyping.

“Mahirap, kasi hindi naman yan nare-report and I don’t think we have active efforts to gather data on that. This will be handled by the CHO but we want to empower the barangays through their committee on health or social welfare that can handle it,” she said.