By Dan Chua JD1 and Ma. Leonila Nuñez JD1


What is mental health? Is it that important that the Philippine Government took notice of its gravity?

Republic Act No. 11036, “An Act Establishing a National Mental Health For The Purpose Of Enhancing The Delivery Of Integrated Mental Health Services, Promoting And Protecting The Rights Of Persons Utilizing Psychosocial Health Services, Appropriating Funds Therefor And Other Purposes

Mental health disorders are one of the most underestimated elements that affect the daily life of a person. This disorder cannot be easily perceived by the five senses of a human, yet this can be categorized as a pandemic because it affects more people than you may think. Mental health is invisible, it is silent, and once you take note of it some would realize that it is too late. We can commonly think that mental health disorders are only associated with depression, anxiety, stress, and others, but we fail to recognize the insane people walking down the streets. The government takes pity of these people, who have been born with their rights but have no capability on how to exercise the full range of their human rights. Will these affected people be able to participate fully in society? Will they be continuously deprived of their rights? These are the people who the Philippine Government takes pity on, thus the creation of this law, that aims to provide treatment or prevention, appropriate medication, and among others with a goal to have these people enjoy their rights. This law aims to educate the general public that mental health disorders, though invisible to the eye, is not supposed to be underestimated.

This Law aims not only to treat the affected community of mental health, but also to educate and promote awareness of mental health disorders to the general public by implementing national policies, strategies, programs, and regulations; develop systems to respond to psychiatric, neurologic, and psychosocial needs; to protect the rights of the affected; strengthen information campaign on mental health disorders; to integrate mental health care in basic health services; to integrate strategies promoting mental health in educational institutions, workplace, and in communities.


RA No. 11036 is the first law of its kind that recognizes, assesses, treats, and provides rights for the community affected by mental health disorders, where before this law was implemented only Health Insurance Coverage from PhilHealth covers mental health patients’ hospitalization as long as the event was caused by extreme episodes of mental or behavioral disorders. This package entitled subscribers to only a rate of Php 7,800. Now after RA No. 11306 had been passed, as discussed by the objectives in Section 3 of this law, mental health care is now considered one of the basic health care services; mental health awareness is integrated in the government, in educational institutions, workplace, and communities, among others.  Chapter II of this law provides for the rights of the service users and other stakeholders, in which the law recognizes that service users, although can be categorized as those who are incapable of fully exercising their rights, still have some rights that entitle them to the equal and nondiscriminatory rights as guaranteed by the Constitution as well as those recognized by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and other relevant international and regional human rights conventions and declarations. Chapter III of this law speaks also of treatment and consent. It is recognized here that there will be appointed a legal representative to those people who are severely affected by mental disorders thus incapacitating them to give their consent to the treatment provided by this law.

Chapter IV provides for Mental Health Services that are responsible for the treatment of the service users from national level down to the barangay level. Mental Health Services will be performed by mental health workers who will also be given rights as they will be the frontliners of this “pandemic” through the Medical Health Facilities that will be provided. Also, to aid the frontliners, this law aims to raise public awareness on the protection and promotion of mental health and rights, so as to not have the front liners overload with the arising battle against mental health disorders. Chapter VI is a supplementary of Chapter V, for which the former provides for the continual capacity building, research and development of mental health disorder treatment while the latter causes the studies to be made known to the private sectors of the Philippines.

The Philippine Council for Mental Health was provided by Chapter VIII that was established to be the policy making planning, coordinating and advisory body attached to the DOH to oversee the implementations of this act. The composition of this council was provided by Chapter VII which provides for the duties and responsibilities of government agencies such as DOH, DepEd, DOLE, DILG, CHR, and CHED, all equally contributing to the fulfillment and implementation of the said law. Chapter IX defines the implementation of those drug dependents who develop mental health disorders- these are the people severely affected by drugs that they become mentally incapable of their functions.

To summarize, this law has a unique attack on the problem it seeks to resolve. The underlying problem of mental health issues has long been among us and is considered to be a global deadly silent pandemic. The best chapter for this law has to be Chapter V, since this aims to develop and make aware the minds of the young Filipinos of the pandemic on hand, while it also aims to make the work sector a partner of the State in enabling affordable and timely access to professional help, if the need arises. When you come to think of it, there are approximately 4.5 million Filipinos engaged in the work sector who could be suffering from depression or any mental health issues that you could find working in their offices between 6 to 12 hours, almost every day. Depression, similarly, is like an untreated physical symptom that can lead to death if the condition remains untreated. Depression and other mental health issues are not something to be chased away by words of “thinking positive everyday”, it should be recognized with great gravity as to avoid dangers to the rights of Filipinos such as their right to enjoy life, to love and be loved, to be treated with dignity as a human, to be free from discrimination, and to be a fully functional subordinate of the society. Finally, help is on the way.

 Salient Points on the Mental Health Act

Sec 17 Community-based Mental Health Care Facilities – Mental Health at the Grassroots Level

The national government through DOH shall fund and assist in the operation of community-based mental health care facilities in provinces, cities, and municipalities in the entire country. Appropriate mental health care services shall be provided to all.

It must be noted that a community-based health care facility refers to a mental health facility outside of a mental hospital. This would also prove to be helpful because not everyone is open to the idea of getting treatment from a mental hospital due to the stigma surrounding it—that those who seek mental health assistance are crazy or weak. A mental health care facility is more accessible and less daunting for the public.

Sec. 22 Suicide Prevention – 24/7 Hotlines

There are stigmas surrounding depression and mental health problems, so people suffering from suicide ideations or suicidal thoughts tend to keep to themselves and go untreated. It is of utmost importance that the public should know that there are ways to get help and prevent suicidal thoughts and actions. The Mental Health bill aims to create 24/7 hotlines to provide assistance to individuals with mental health conditions, especially to those who are at risk of committing suicide. The call may be made by a concerned friend or relative, and even the one afflicted with suicidal tendencies.

Suicide surveillance and hotlines will be more mainstream. The first responders, health professionals, and volunteers of the hotlines will be well trained enough to recognize suicidal behaviors, provide telephone counseling and support those who are experiencing any kind or level of depression.

Sec. 25 Mental Health Promotion in Educational Institutions – Accessible Mental Health Care for Students

Educational institutions such as schools, technical schools and universities will develop policies and programs designed to raise awareness on mental health issues, to identify and provide support for individuals at risk as well as mechanize referrals to individuals with mental health conditions for treatment and psychosocial support.  All public and private educational institutions will be required to have mental health professionals ready to provide assistance to students.

This is an important point because, young adults need to be educated on the importance of taking care of their and others’ mental health. This teaches the youth to be more understanding and self-aware of their mental wellness. The rigors and confusion of growing up and school life will definitely take a toll on young minds, so it is of utmost urgency for an education system that will place emphasis on the mental well-being of every Filipino youth.


S. Poblacion (2018, July) Mental Health in the Philippines [Online]

The LawPhil Project (n.d.) REPUBLIC ACT No. 11036 “An Act Establishing a National Mental Health Policy for the Purpose of Enhancing the Delivery of Integrated Mental Health Services, Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Persons Utilizing Psychosocial Health Services, Appropriating Funds Therefor and Other Purposes” [Online]

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