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NCMH bags Silver Trailblazer Award for elevating mental health care in PH through PGS

The demand for mental health has been increasing worldwide, and the Philippines is no exemption. With the passage of the Mental Health Act, the government recognized the dire need for accessible and quality mental healthcare for all Filipinos. Since its enactment, institutions such as the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) have grappled with and surpassed challenges to fulfill this new legislation’s goals for Filipinos.

On behalf of the newly Performance Governance System Initiated Hospital, Medical Center Chief II, Dr. Noel Reyes imparted their plans to become a 3,500-bed national specialty center, enabling a functional network of mental health centers, last April 12, earning them a Silver Trailblazer Award.

Since creating a network of mental health centers is one of NCMH’s prime goals, Dr. Reyes emphasized the importance of collaboration and capacity building.

“All of this should be made through collaboration, be it enhancement of our training, be it enhancement of our service provision. Sharing of best practices in terms of training [and] capacitation, we get several private institutions to help us,” he said.

Championing mental health doesn’t stop at providing therapy and other mental health services; hence, helping patients and empowering them to become productive members of society is one of NCMH’s efforts to help them reintegrate into their respective communities. Dr. Reyes shared that NCMH has a program that serves as a “halfway” from the hospital to the community managed by an occupational therapist to help patients gain more skills in their chosen fields of work.

We have established a program for […] reintegration [to] the community. The program is called, “Daloy ng Pag-asa” and its really about patients and service users being taught skills to the point of building a presentable resume for job opportunities […] making the transition in terms of bringing back and becoming a productive member of the community much easier,” Dr. Reyes said.  

Even though initiatives are underway and mechanisms are put in place to ensure smooth implementation, like other public healthcare facilities, NMCH is also challenged by a limited budget. Despite this hurdle, the medical center still managed to provide subsidies and additional benefits to their service users through activity-based budgeting.

“We do have a Malasakit Program [where] the medication is being augmented or subsidized by the Medicine Access Program. […] And of course, being a government facility, there is no balance billing so everything is free. And that’s the reason why we have strong, enhanced financial management so our programs can be sustained,” he shared.

Moving forward from this milestone, NCMH hopes to continue fulfilling its mandate to provide better mental healthcare services and create more partnerships to provide quality mental healthcare for Filipinos nationwide.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Reyes extended his appreciation to the NCMH team for their commitment and willingness to embrace change and innovation and to the Institute for Solidarity in Asia for guiding them toward this achievement.

“It is truly an honor to have achieved this significant milestone for NCMH. I am incredibly grateful to the people whose unwavering dedication made this success possible. This is just the beginning, and rest assured that NCMH is taking every step possible to provide the Filipino people with the highest standard of mental health services. Maraming maraming salamat po,” he said.

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