‘Be your brothers’ keeper’ – A challenge to stakeholders of first mental health confab

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Bicol Assistant Regional Director, Dr. Napoleon L. Arevalo (center) stresses a point on the inclusive public health program of DOH that no citizen shall be left out in the said health care program. He is flanked by Villanueva (left) and Dr. Evy Sarmiento, the regional mental health coordinator in Bicol. PHOTO BY ELMER JAMES BANDOL/BICOLTODAY.COM
Bicol Assistant Regional Director, Dr. Napoleon L. Arevalo (center) stresses a point on the inclusive public health program of DOH that no citizen shall be left out in the said health care program. He is flanked by Villanueva (left) and Dr. Evy Sarmiento, the regional mental health coordinator in Bicol. PHOTO BY ELMER JAMES BANDOL/BICOLTODAY.COM
Bicol Assistant Regional Director, Dr. Napoleon L. Arevalo (center) stresses a point on the inclusive public health program of DOH that no citizen shall be left out in the said health care program. He is flanked by Villanueva (left) and Dr. Evy Sarmiento, the regional mental health coordinator in Bicol. PHOTO BY ELMER JAMES BANDOL/BICOLTODAY.COM

By Elmer James Bandol

LEGAZPI CITY, 13Oct2013 (BicolToday.com) – “Be your brothers’ keeper” – a revised metaphoric passage from the Holy Bible became the rallying point for participants of the First Bicol Mental Health Congress – in a nut shell inspirational message delivered by Mary Mediatrix V. Villanueva during the opening program held Thursday at Oriental Hotel here.

Facing the local media following her message, Villanueva explained the first gathering of stakeholders in the region will bolster caring consciousness for the elderly, persons with mental problems and those neglected by their families now increasing. She heads the Simon of Cyrene, an outstanding non-government organization (NGO), catering to children with disabilities in Daraga, Albay. “We shared our lives with realistic care”, Villanueva told her experience.

During press conference, reporters presented their observations that mentally deranged persons are starved of care, lack attention from local government, and avoided by hospitals. The practice to dodge responsibility and control them as “roaming eye-sores” in the community, persons with mental disability are intentionally transported from one place to the other.

“I don’t think that, because I am working at the Department of Health or a government employee, but I must do something for a street person mentally ill, or may be, call the attention of the barangay officials to locate the family for possible assistance”., DOH Assistant Regional Director Napoleon L. Arevalo told reporters.

Arevalo explained the congress’ main objective to work on the principle of private-public-partnership, together for collaboration of actions and networking since the local government and DOH cannot do without, in facing the problem on mental health, and problems of the aging and elderly. “We need the private sector and I think this gathering is a milestone in the region, not only as first to happen but a well-attended gathering”, he emphasized.

Simon of Cyrene President Mary Mediatrix V. Villanueva delivers her inspiring message before more than 500 participants in the First Bicol Mental Health Congress held Thursday at Oriental Hotel, Legazpi City. Sharing her experience in running a non-government institution that caters to children with disabilities, Villanueva urged stakeholders of mental health program to "be brothers' keeper" or giving functional concern to mentally- deranged subjects is value worthy of emulation. PHOTO BY ELMER JAMES BANDOL/BICOLTODAY.COM
Simon of Cyrene President Mary Mediatrix V. Villanueva delivers her inspiring message before more than 500 participants in the First Bicol Mental Health Congress held Thursday at Oriental Hotel, Legazpi City. Sharing her experience in running a non-government institution that caters to children with disabilities, Villanueva urged stakeholders of mental health program to “be brothers’ keeper” or giving functional concern to mentally- deranged subjects is value worthy of emulation. PHOTO BY ELMER JAMES BANDOL/BICOLTODAY.COM

According to Arevalo, the same assembly will serve as avenue to provide current trends in psychiatry; identify those involved in providing mental health and establish referral system from the local government units, private institutions retained by the DOH and set up network arrangement down to family level that will effectively push inclusive public health program of the government.

By mentioning data from National Statistics Office, Regional Mental Health Coordinator, Dr. Evy Sarmiento named causes affecting mental health as: uncontrolled use of alcohol & drugs; lack of education; poverty; poor nutrition; injustice; violence & war; and work related stress.

Sarmiento said “excessive sadness” due to loss of loved ones and “unfulfilled dreams or depressions” as most common reasons behind mental disability prevalent to men than women, while next is forgetfulness or confusion followed by use of drugs and alcohol.

Global mental health situation report mentioned mental disability as the third most common disability in the Philippines, however, this problem still can be treated and patients can fully recover if given full attention. [BicolToday.com]

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