City passes mental health ordinance, to create mental health council

The city is set to form a Baguio City Mental Health Council that will put into place a mental health care and developmental program aimed to address the “exponential increase” in the number of persons suffering from mental health problems.

In seeking the passage of an ordinance to that effect last Monday, principal authors councilors Levy Lloyd Orcales and Joel Alangsab said that there is a need of a community-based program aimed at curbing the emergence of mental health problems in the city that result to suicides especially among the youth.

The two argued that mental health is a part of a person’s totality, “it must be protected and maintained through the significant intervention of the city government, the councilors asserted.”

The ordinance, the two argued, “aims to provide responsive, socioculturally-appropriate, context-based, and timely mental health services in the community, school, and hospital level to address the needs of individuals with psychological, mental health, psychiatric, and neuropsychiatric concerns.”

Under the ordinance, the BMHC shall be created and shall serve as the advisory-body to the city council and will serve as a policy-making body for the implementation of community and recovery-based measures.

The BMHC shall consist of the city mayor as the chairperson; the chairperson of the Sanggunian’s Committee on Health and Sanitation, Ecology and Environmental Protection as the vice-chairperson; and the city health services officer as the action officer.

The BMHC shall convene other city officials, agencies, associations, offices, and experts from the field of psychology as members.

The functions of the BMHC include: to ensure that services provided by the city’s mental health care program is responsive to the clinical, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, ages, and genders of the individuals being served; appropriate and not restrictive; proactive, sustainable, and outcome-based; and provided by licensed health workers.

To promote mental health services, the city will adapt the following measures/activities shall be initiated:

Citywide multimedia campaigns to raise the level of public awareness on the promotion and protection of people’s mental health;

A 24/7 mental health help line to provide assistance to individuals with mental health conditions, especially individuals at risk of suicide ideation, including those who are suffering from different types of addiction and substance abuse;

Community-based information forums and mental health responder trainings participated by all barangay officials including the Sangguniang Kabataan officials to capacitate them in advocating and promoting mental health awareness;

A school-based mental health program formulated by the schools’ respective guidance counselors, medical officer, school nurse, administrators, designated teacher, and other concerned staff; and

A mental health program to be integrated in both private and public workplaces formulated by their respective Human Resource and Management officers in consultation with the BMHC together with the Department of Labor and Employment and the Civil Service Commission.

In La Trinidad, mayor Romeo Salda assured his constituents, more specifically the youth, that the leadership of the municipality will be always there to help.

In his message, the mayor said: “Never lose hope. More so: Never, ever take your own life.” In his message to the youth, Salda said: “Keep the faith. You have so much ahead of you. You are filled with so much promise and are capable of so much goodness.”

To the parents, he pleaded: “So, always find time for your children. Reach out. Talk to them. Know the warning signs. And more importantly, once spotted, swiftly act on them.”

He also asked the community members to check on someone “especially our young ones – you may be concerned about.”

He also asked community members to lend an ear as he said: “Listen to what they have to say, how they say it and show them kindness and support.”

He also called on all La Trinidad community members to “be one supportive community.”



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