By: Saul Pa-a
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – The shortage of psychiatrists in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) Region has prompted the Department of Health regional office to embark on capacitating health workers to do the job to augment mental health services.
Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo, DOH Calabarzon Regional Director, said on Thursday one of the biggest barriers to the management and treatment of mental health illness in the country is the lack of qualified health personnel to do the job.
“There is a need to properly identify the illness and provide appropriate treatment,” Janairo said, citing the National Mental Health Law or Republic Act 11036 which President Rodrigo Duterte signed June 21, 2018, paving the way for the establishment of the government’s national mental health policy.
Through the new law, the government’s mental health policy aims to enhance integrated mental health services to promote and protect Filipinos suffering from mental health illness and afford them access to professional help.
In pursuit of the new law, the DOH regional office has gathered the 2nd batch of health workers for a four-day “Training on Mental Health Global Action Program (MHGAP)” for municipal and city health officers, nurses and mental health coordinators in the region, which kicked off last Tuesday and ended Friday.
“The growing number of people with mental health problems must be given importance and the only way to immediately recognize them is to provide the knowledge and skills to our health workers, especially in the community where most of untreated mental illness are prevalent,” he added.
Janairo said mental illness affects not only the individual, but also the family, their eventual woes on financial strain, job loss and also psychological problem affecting a family member personally helping a mentally ill relative.
Based on DOH data, there are only 600 licensed psychiatrists in the country and to augment this shortage, the regional health office here has already trained a total of 70 health workers for Calabarzon.
The training is led by the DOH Calabarzon Non-Communicable Disease Control Unit under its Mental Health Program led by Mental Health Coordinator Paulina A. Calo.
The MHGAP training gathered a team of mental health experts from the National Center for Mental Health, Quirino Memorial Medical Center Psychiatric Department, Dementia Society of the Philippines, Department of Neurosciences of the University of the Philippines, Neurology Department.
To address the stigma on mental illness afflicting Calabarzon patients, Calo has presented to the trainees the proven mental health practices to recognize early signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse.
Meanwhile, Dr. D. Darwin Dasig, one of the mental health specialists from Makati Medical Center, presented the signs and symptoms of a patient with attention deficit disorder (ADD), which experts found to be a neurological disorder.
This illness exhibits a range of behavioral problems like difficulty in understanding instructions, lack of focus on school work and in doing assignments in the case of students, and a host of other abnormal behaviors during social interactions, Dasig said. (PNA)