Palawan lacks facilities and services that will cater to the growing number of mental health concerns in the province, according to an official of the provincial chapter of the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA), Inc.
While there have been grassroots efforts in the province to provide helplines for those suffering, the province lacks facilities and enough licensed mental health experts for consultation, therapy, and treatment.
Palawan News spoke to Lorizza Posadas-Gacott, a registered guidance counselor and one of the officers of the PMHA, to determine the current state of mental health services and facilities available in the province, especially under the current pandemic.
According to Posadas-Gacott, there is an obvious lack of facilities and services dedicated to mental health concerns in the province, particularly when one needs to consult with a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist.
“Mayroon kasing dalawang uri ng interventions: medical and psychosocial. Sa medical, dito pumapasok ang mga prescriptions, medications, at dapat psychiatrist and nag-aadminister. Sa psychosocial, dito pumapasok ang therapy at counselling under a psychologist. Unfortunately, very limited ito. Dalawa lang ang mga may medical practice sa Puerto Princesa City, and isa pa ay paminsan-minsan lang bumibisita ang doktor” said Posadas-Gacott Monday (August 31).
Helplines are not enough
Posadas-Gacott stated that there have been efforts by the PMHA and the Palawan State University (PSU) to provide an immediate response to persons suffering from mental illnesses. The PMHA utilizes Facebook, sharing contact information of various mental health institutions. PSU launched the SHARE helpline in late March, primarily catering to locals experiencing anxiety or students experiencing loneliness.
However, while these helplines open communication lines for persons experiencing various mental health concerns, primarily anxiety and depression, they do not provide professional counseling or prescribe medication. According to Posadas-Gacott, face-to-face consultation with a licensed professional is still the ideal.
“Kahit mayroong mga helpline, mas ideal pa rin ang consultation talaga, yung makikipag-meet ang doctor sa pasyente,” she said.
No mental facility for severe cases
Without existing mental health facilities in the province, those suffering severe cases of mental illness cannot be confined for proper care and treatment.
“Dito kasi sa Palawan, wala tayong tinatawag talaga na mental hospital,” said Posadas-Gacott. “Mayroon namang mental health unit sa Ospital ng Palawan. There, they focus on assessment, pero kahit doon ang doctor ay minsan lang bumibisita.”
The PMHA Palawan chapter has pushed for the building of an office dedicated to mental health needs in the Puerto Princesa City socio-economic recovery plan, but the city has yet to give a response to their request.
“Sumulat ang PMHA sa city government para sa pagpapatayo ng office na dedicated sa mental health concerns. Sa ngayon wala pa kaming updates galing sa kanila,” she said.