Quezon SP okays mental-health program for all constituents

LUCENA CITY—The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Quezon seeks to institutionalize and promote a mental-health program for the province to help persons with mental illness and remove the stigma to those afflicted with it.

Provincial Second District Board Member Elizabeth Sio, SP Committee on Health and Sanitation, led a committee hearing last Tuesday to formalize the creation of a technical working group that would assist the Provincial Council on Mental Health Care and Psychosocial Support.

Sio, along with her colleague Fourth District Board Member Rhodora Tan sought the support and advice of various resource persons to come up with an effective and efficient mental-health program for persons afflicted with mental-health problems and their reintegration to their families and communities.

Sio, who authored SP Resolution 669 that enacted the provincial ordinance creating the provincial council on mental-health care and psychosocial support, first showed in the committee hearing a slide presentation defining mental illness as referring to a wide range of mental-health conditions or disorders that affect mood, thinking and behavior. Forms of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Nydia Fermo and Dario Flores, both psychiatrists of the Quezon Medical Center (QMC), claimed during the committee hearing that Quezon province ranks second to the number of cases of mental illness after the National Capital Region (NCR).

When sought for specifics at his OPD office yesterday at the QMC, Flores sought to downplay the number of mental-health cases in Quezon province, saying that was 10 years ago, while at present, only one  or two patients with mild mental-health problems come to consult him daily. Data provided by Daniel Urgelles, electronic field health-service information system coordinator at QMC, revealed there are five leading cases of mental morbidity in Quezon. These are neurotic, stress-related somatoform disorders with 26 afflicted; schizophrenia, schizotypal and delusional disorders with 12; mood disorders with five; organic, including symptomatic, mental disorders with one; and unspecified mental disorder with two, partial data last year showed. Urgelles said their data showed very few cases of persons with mental-health problems in the province so he was surprised at the claims made by the Fermo and Flores that Quezon ranks second after the NCR.

At the committee hearing, Ador Culing, a technical staff to Vice Gov. Sam Nantes, sought to clarify after learning that Quezon is No. 2 in mental-health cases after the NCR about the kinds of mental illnesses in the province, their gender, age and causes of those afflicted with mental disorders.

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John A. Bello has written for several national and local newspapers for over a decade and a half covering Quezon province. Aside from writing journalistic articles he also dabbles in literary fiction in both English and Filipino.