Angara urges Philhealth to review mental health services coverage

Sonny Angara

SENATOR Sonny Angara on Thursday urged Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to review its coverage for mental health services as more people might be in need of professional help due to depression brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This was after National Center for Mental Health chief Dr. Rolando Cortez admitted that the mental institution has been “bombarded” by distress calls during the lockdown period.

Cortez said from the monthly average of around 60 to 80 calls a month, they are receiving 300 to 400 since the lockdown started in March.

He added that people are suffering from anxiety and depression since the lockdown started in March.

“Meaning to say that there are a lot of people wanting to communicate with experts,” Cortez said during the hearing of Senate committee on health and demography for amendments to RA 11036 or the Mental Health Act.

Cortez encouraged the public, including health care workers and displaced overseas Filipino workers, to call the NCMH 24/7 distress hotlines for mental health concerns through 0917 899 87 27 and (02)989 87 27.

Angara believed that there is need for PhilHeath to review its case rate offer for mental health concerns as the current rate is only P7,800.

"Maybe they could take a look lang dito sa case rates for mental health in light of what our resource persons have shared na it's on the uptick, given the number of people cooked up or quarantined, baka panahon po na gumawa ng different case rates for different cases," Angara said.

In this connection,  Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who chairs the PhilHealth Board, said a review is in the pipeline and will start in the third quarter of 2020.

"Kinakailangan talagang i-review na ito at kung pwedeng ma-ramp up ang support value ng PhilHealth sa iba't ibang kondisyon na nakakaapekto sa mental health ng ating mga kababayan," Duque said.

Meanwhile, Senator Bong Go, Senate committee on health and demography chair, said aside from physical health,  government must also ensure that the state of mental health of its people are promoted and protected especially this time of COVID-19.

Go added that his office has been receiving a lot of calls from displaced OFWs who have been spending too much time in quarantine sites and have been longing to be reunited with their families.

“They are concerned not only about their employment but also how they can provide for their families, ito po ang leading (this leads) to depression,” Go said.

Go said even frontliners are also at risk of having mental health issues.