Quezon City Rep. Patrick Michael Vargas is pushing for the enactment of a bill providing immediate compensation benefits to entitled mental health service users under Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act.
Vargas filed House Bill 2789 seeking to amend RA 11036 by introducing a new provision on the Rights of Service Users that mandates the immediate release of compensation benefits and other special financial assistance should mental health service users sustain “temporary or permanent mental disability while in the performance of duty or by reason of his or her office or position.”
Vargas, vice chair of the House social services committee, said his bill sheds light on the struggles of Filipino workers and the risks that come with work-related stress, which according to experts can lead to several mental health problems such as depression or even dementia.
“Filipino workers are hardworking and resilient. Every blood, sweat, and tears they pour into a day’s work must be compensated with sufficient safeguards to protect their mental health and well-being,” Vargas said.
In 2021, the legislator noted the Department of Health (DOH) estimated that at least 3.6 million Filipinos are facing mental health issues during the pandemic, including depression, substance use disorders such as alcohol use disorder, and mood disorders like bipolar disorder.
About 1.14 million Filipinos have depression, 847,000 are battling alcohol-use disorders, while 520,000 others were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to the DOH’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau. Maricel V. Cruz
“Four years after the Mental Health Act was enacted into law, with my brother, then-Rep. Alfred Vargas as one of its principal authors, we hope to continue to strengthen our mental health services to be responsive to the needs of the times,” the QC solon added.
Vargas, as also noted that access to mental health services for the greater population remain limited due to economic constraints.
At present, PhilHealth only offers up to P7,800 benefit coverage for hospitalization of patients with diagnosed mental and behavioral disorders for acute attacks or episodes.
In June 2021, PhilHealth announced that it will work with the Department of Health for mental health to be included in the Konsulta package, one of its primary care package for Filipinos.
“As we seek to increase the budget for mental health services, we must continue to strive to deliver immediate and accessible mental health services for every Filipino,” Vargas said.