robes

Rep. Florida Robes (File photo from her office)

MANILA, Philippines — The government should give more attention to the mental health of Filipinos as the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an increase in cases of depression and suicide, San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida Robes said on Sunday.

“I believe that as much as we work to address COVID-19, we should also give the same attention to our mental health because this is what will have a greater impact on our well-being as we recover from this pandemic and that is what I will continue to advocate in Congress and for the people of San Jose Del Monte City,” Robes said during an online forum organized by the Philippine Press Institute — “Nakakaloka, A Silent Pandemic: The Impact of Covid-19 on mental health.”

According to Robes, she has been receiving reports about mental health issues caused by the pandemic.

She pointed out that mental illnesses had been on the rise in recent years, and the pandemic had made it even worse. And yet, only 5 percent of the Department of Health (DOH) budget has been allotted mental health programs.

This is the reason, she pointed out, why she filed House Bill (HB) 9980 establishing the first mental health clinic in the country in San Jose Del Monte. The bill was approved on final reading by the House of Representatives on Sept. 28

READ: House OKs on final reading bill seeking to set up first mental health clinic in PH

Robes said Congress should also prioritize other bills she has co-authored that aim to strengthen mental health services in schools, colleges, and universities.

Among these are HB 10284 (An Act Strengthening the Mental Health Services of State Universities and Colleges) and HB 10327 (An Act Strengthening the Promotion and Delivery of Mental Health Services Through Hiring and Deployment of Mental Health Professionals).

“I am hoping that these two bills get approved by the House of Representatives when session resumes next month and that the Senate moves in the same direction on mental health issues,” Robes said.

“This is an issue that is close to my heart because I know many people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, helplessness at this very difficult time. I myself have experienced those feelings when COVID-19 came close to our home,” she added.

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