Bill seeks to give financial aid to workers who suffer from mental health problems

A LAWMAKER on Monday pushed for the swift passage of a bill that will provide financial assistance to public and private sector workers who suffer from job-related mental disability.   

House Bill 2789 seeks to introduce a new provision to Section 5 of Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act, which mandates the release of special financial assistance should mental health service users sustain temporary or permanent mental disability during their duty. 

“Filipino workers are hardworking and resilient. Every blood, sweat, and tear they pour into a day’s work must be compensated with sufficient safeguards to protect their mental health and well-being,” Quezon City Rep. Michael D. Vargas, author of the bill, said in a statement. 

Under the Mental Health Act, a service user is a person who has a mental health condition including those who require psychiatric, neurologic and psychosocial care. 

The distribution of the special financial assistance under the proposed measure will still be subject to deliberation when the internal rules and regulations are created. 

In 2021, the Department of Health (DoH) estimated that at least 3.6 million Filipinos were facing mental health issues during the pandemic.   

The Health department’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau said around 1.14 million had depression, while 847,000 were had alcohol-related issues. It also said 520,000 were diagnosed with bipolar disorder.   

“Access to mental health services for the greater population remains limited due to economic constraints,” Mr. Vargas, also vice chairperson of the House committee on social services, said in the bill’s explanatory note. “Thus, the government must increase its efforts to enable service users to equitably access appropriate care when needed.”   

Currently, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. offers up to P7,800 hospitalization coverage for patients with diagnosed mental and behavioral disorders.   

Last year, it announced that it will work with the DoH to include mental health coverage in of one its primary care packages. — Matthew Carl L. Montecillo