Comprehensive mental health system eyed to address increased suicide, depression cases in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY – (Feb. 25, 2021) – A comprehensive mental health care and wellness system will soon be crafted as the city’s response to the “alarming cases of depression and suicides in the city and neighboring municipalities,” Coun. Joel Alangsab announced on Feb. 22.

Alangsab said Mayor Benjamin Magalong is poised to sign a city council ordinance which the alderman co-authored with Sangguniang Kabataan Coun. Levy Lloyd Orcales to establish a mental health program that aims among others to provide cheap if not free medicines and access to amenities to the affected sector.

Records from the City Health Services Office under Dr. Rowena Galpo showed that the city had a total 30 suicide cases in 2020 and 28 in 2019. Both figures were almost double of the number of cases in 2018 at 16 cases.

This year, two cases had already been recorded.

“We had 14 confirmed cases of suicide from January to August 2020 alone. Twelve adults and two minors. One case involved a 64-year old man who believed he had contracted the (Coronavirus disease) but was found negative,” Alangsab said adding that two other cases involved a prominent person and a youth leader.

Alangsab said that through the ordinance, the city government wants people with mental problems that they are not helpless.

The measure which had been approved on final reading by the city council is one of the very few statutes of such kind enacted in the country pursuant to Republic Act No. 11036 or the Mental Health Act.

Under the measure, a Baguio Mental Health Council will be created to serve as the advisory body to the city council and as a policy-making body for the crafting of a comprehensive mental health care and wellness system.

The ordinance is for the protection and promotion of the right to health of the people and to be given sufficient, adequate, proper, and timely mental illness prevention and treatment and to maintain the psychiatric, neurologic and psychological, mental stability of citizens.

It will apply to all persons, regardless of age, sex, religion and such other distinctions, who are in need of psychiatric, neurologic and psycho-social health services. – Aileen P. Refuerzo