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Duterte signs Mental Health Act.

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte affirmed the basic rights of all Filipinos to mental health as he signed Wednesday Republic Act no. 11036 or the Mental Health Act.

The Act enhances the delivery of integrated mental health services, and the promotion and protection of the rights of persons utilizing psychiatric, neurologic, and psychosocial health services, by appropriating funds.

Based on the new law, the State will commit to promote the well-being of people by ensuring that mental health is valued, promoted, and protected; and that mental health conditions are treated and prevented.

The State also ensures that timely, affordable, high quality, and culturally-appropriate mental health care is made available to the public; services will be free from coercion and accountable to the service users; and those with mental health conditions are able to exercise the full range of human rights, and participate fully in society and at work, free from stigmatization and discrimination.

The law will take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette, or in at least two newspapers of general circulation.

Mental health care system

One of the objectives of the law is to create a comprehensive, integrated, effective, and efficient national mental health care system responsive to the psychiatric, neurologic, and psychological needs of Filipinos.

The government is also set to implement policies, strategies, programs, and regulations relating to mental health; and strengthen information systems, evidence, and research for mental health.

In the local government level, local government units (LGUs) and academic institutions are compelled to create their own mental health program that is coordinated with concerned government agencies. LGUs are also tasked to make a quarterly report to the Philippine Council for Mental Health through the DOH.

The Department of Education (DOH) shall fund the establishment of community-based mental health facilities and assist in its operations.

Meanwhile, mental health services should include mechanisms for suicide intervention, prevention, and response strategies, with particular attention to the concerns of the youth. Hotlines dedicated to assist individuals with mental health conditions will also be established and will be open 24/7.

Rights of service users

The law ensures that service users will enjoy all rights enshrined in the Constitution, and those recognized under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without social, political, and economic discrimination.

Service users will also be able to freely exercise all their inherent civil, political, economic, social, religious, educational, and cultural rights.

They will also be able to access treatment of the same standard and quality of treatment; and affordable essential health and social services.

Service users will also have access to mental health services at all levels of the national health care system.

They will be able to access psychosocial care and clinical treatment in the least restrictive manner. They will also be given humane treatment free from solitary confinement, torture, and other forms of cruel, inhumane, harmful, or degrading treatment and invasive procedures not backed by scientific evidence.

Service users may also designate a person of legal age to act as his or her legal representative, except in cases of impairment or temporary loss of decision-making capacity.

The service user will also have the right to legal services of their choice. However, if the service user cannot afford the services of a counsel, the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) can assist.

They can also have access to their clinical records unless the attending professional thinks that revealing such information will only cause harm to the service users and to the people around them.

Confidentiality

The law also guarantees confidentiality of all information, communications, and records, in whatever medium regarding the service user. Such information will only be disclosed to third parties if a written consent from the service user, or their legal representative, is provided.

However, such information can be disclosed without the permission of the service user if it is pursuant to a court order; the service user has expressed consent to the disclosure; or if a life-threatening emergency that requires such disclosure exists.

Disclosure of information without consent is also allowed if the service user is a minor and that the attending professional believes that they are a victim of child abuse.

The disclosure may also be required in connection with an administrative, civil, or criminal case against a mental health professional or worker for negligence or breach of professional ethics.

Rights of family members, carers, legal representatives, and professionals

According to the new law, the family members, carers, and legal representatives of the service user will have the right to apply for release and transfer of the service user to an appropriate mental health facility.

They also have the right to receive appropriate psychosocial support from relevant government agencies.

They can also participate in the formulation, development, and implementation of the service user's treatment plan.

However, if the service user fails to appoint a legal representative, the spouse of the service user will be appointed unless they are legally separated, or have abandoned one another and have not yet reunited.

Others who can be appointed as legal representatives are the service user's non-minor children; either parent by mutual consent if the patient is a minor; the chief, administrator, or medical director of a mental health care facility; or a person appointed by the court.

Meanwhile, mental health professionals will have the right accept or decline a patient for treatment except in emergency situations.

Treatment and consent

Meanwhile, service users are required to provide informed consent in writing before undergoing any program of therapy or treatment, including physical and chemical restraint.

Internal Review Board

Public and private health facilities are mandated to create their respective internal review boards to expeditiously review all cases, disputes, and controversies, involving the treatment or confinement of service users within their facilities.

The board shall be composed of a representative each coming from the Department of Health (DOH), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), a person nominated by an organization representing service users and their families accredited by the Philippine Council for Mental Health, and other members deemed necessary.

The board is mandated to conduct regular review, monitoring, and audit of all cases involving the treatment and confinement of service users in its jurisdiction. It is also compelled to inspect the facilities

The board will also investigate cases, disputes, and controversies involving involuntary treatment, confinement, or restraint. While this is upon a written complaint or petition filed by a service user or their immediate family or legal representative, it is also motu proprio.

The board is also tasked to take all necessary action to rectify or remedy violations of a service user's right in relation to treatment, confinement, or restraint. They will also recommend the filing of administrative, civil, or criminal cases by the appropriate government agency.

Exceptions to informed consent

Treatment, restraint, or confinement, whether physical or chemical, may be administered to the service user in case of emergency, impairment, or temporary loss of decision-making capacity.

However, said treatment, restraint, or confinement should do no harm to the patient or people surrounding them; and should only be to the extent that such actions or necessary.

Treatment, restraint, or confinement should be upon the order of the attending professional, but such order must be reviewed by the internal review board 15 days prior, and every 15 days as it continues.

Penalties

Any person found guilty of violating any provision of the law will be punished by imprisonment of six months to two years; or a fine from P10,000 to P200,000, or both.

These violations include the failure to secure informed consent; breach of confidentiality of information; discrimination against a person with mental health conditions; and administering inhumane, cruel, degrading, or harmful treatment not based on medical or scientific evidence.

If the violation is committed by a juridical person, the penalty will be imposed upon the directors, officers, employees, or other officials or persons responsible for the offense.

If the violation is committed by an alien, they will immediately be deported after serving their sentence without the need of further proceedings.

CAPTION(S):

President Rodrigo Duterte (ROBINSON NINAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs the Republic Act 11033 'Converting the Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology into a State University' and Republic Act 11032 or 'Ease of Doing Business Act' during the ceremonial enactment at Malacanan Palace on May 28, 2018. Joining the President are Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. ROBINSON NINAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Jun 21, 2018
Words:1415
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