Caring for persons with mental disorders

Caring for persons with mental disorders

San Francisco, California—The latest among the many projects of Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio “Ambo” David, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan, is about the promotion of mental well-being, prevention of mental disorders, protection of human rights and the care for persons with mental disorders. The main goal is solution to depression and prevention of suicide. He established a team of professional psychiatrists, psychologists and lay people who underwent training to give advice to depressed people, open communication link with them. Phone in consultation would be available to give such advice.

The project Mental Health came about when several months ago, there were news about series of suicide committed by young people. I remember some years ago, suicide was committed by young people but there was an instance when the head of family committed suicide. When our parish priest visited the wake, he was told that the suicide note stated that the head of family had nothing to feed his family due to poverty, so he ended his life. It really broke our heart to hear that poverty was the reason in committing suicide.

The role of the family is very crucial in this situation; they must be sensitive on what the other members are going through life. Known reasons about suicide by teenagers are lack of parental love, feeling of being alone, broken relationship, or frustration in studies. All the reasons for these suicide cases could have been prevented had the family, the community and the victims themselves had been sensitive to what a person is going through.



The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to the community.

Experts say we all have the potential to develop mental health problems, no matter how old we are, whether we are male or female, rich or poor, or which ethnic group we belong to.  The most common types of mental illness are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia disorders.

The individual has a severe fear or anxiety, which is linked to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety. Constant stressful thoughts (obsessions), and a powerful urge to perform repetitive acts, and post-traumatic stress can occur after going through a traumatic event.

 Mood disorders occurs when patients have significant changes in mood, generally involving either mania (euphoria or elation) or depression.

Schizophrenia disorders normally begins between the ages of 15 and 25. The individual has thoughts that appear fragmented; they also find it hard to process information. It includes delusions, thought disorders, and hallucinations, withdrawal, or lack of motivation.

 Early signs of mental disorder is using illegal drugs; withdrawing from people or activities they would normally enjoy; sleeping or eating too much or too little; feeling as if nothing matters; consistently low energy; confusion; thinking of harming one’s self or others; hearing voices; delusions.



President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11036 or the Philippine Mental Health Law on June 20, 2018; it took effect on July 5, 2018. The implementing rules and regulations were approved last January 2019.

The new law assures protection of the rights and welfare of persons in need of mental health assistance by integrating mental health care system and facilities in major hospitals in Metro Manila and in provincial hospitals across the country. The government has the responsibility to put up mental health care facilities and to provide enough fund for the enactment of the law.  It is expected to be integrated into the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Sections 15 and 16 order government units (city, municipality, and barangay) and academic institutions to provide community-based mental health care facilities and services.      

These units must also create their own program in accordance to the guidelines set by the Philippine Council for Mental Health that individuals with suicidal tendencies exhibit depressed moods, their hygiene and grooming deteriorating, their focus waning, irritable, guilty, and verbalizes self-harm. Pending the government’s setting up mental health facilities, programs and services, we can do our share by taking active role, by listening and caring for individuals who are vulnerable to suffer depression. In so doing, we save lives.



Please allow me to greet a very Happy Birthday to four members of our family who are celebrating their birthday this October—my brother Roberto “Bobby” Santiago and his son Patrick Robby, my nephew Michael Gerald Rosales and my grandnephew Guillaume Charleroi “C2” Rosales Castro.