National Center for Mental Health `bombarded’ with distress calls

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    THE National Center for Mental Health has been “bombarded” with distress calls since the lockdown period started in mid-March, averaging 300 to 400 calls a month from the 60 to 80 average before the imposition of community quarantines, its chief, Dr. Rolando Cortez, said on Thursday.

    Cortez said people have been suffering from anxiety and depression since the lockdown was imposed, and “a lot of people want to communicate with experts.”

    He encouraged the public, including healthcare workers and displaced overseas Filipino workers, to call the NCMH 24/7 distress hotlines for mental health concerns through 0917 899 87 27 and (02)989 87 27.

    Cortez spoke before the Senate committee on health and demography, chaired by Sen. Christopher Go, which is hearing proposed amendments to RA 11036 or the Mental Health Act as contained in a bill filed by Sen. Edgardo Angara.

    Cortez’ disclosure prompted Angara to call for a review of the case rate coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for mental health services, which he said is not at only P7,800.

    Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, PhilHealth chairman, told the hearing as review is scheduled in the third quarter of this year.

    Go said he will introduce amendments to the Mental Health Act to provide compensation benefits and/or special financial assistance in the event a worker sustains disability while in the performance of his duties.

    “We should always endeavor to protect the people from public health threats, protect and provide compensation and proper equipment to our health facilities and our laboratories and ensure equitable access to quality and affordable health care,” he added.