De los Santos pushes for creation of Behavioral Health Unit at CCMC

A MEMBER of the Cebu City Council is pushing for the creation of a Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) to address the prevalence of mental health issues in the city.

The proposed BHU will be composed of mental health personnel, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychometricians and social workers.

Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos filed the CCMC-BHU ordinance during the City Council’s regular session on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. The lawmaker’s legislation seeks to promote the well-being of the public by providing hassle-free access to mental health services.

De los Santos explained in her proposed ordinance that the increasing trauma cases brought about by vehicular accidents and physical violence within and outside the family have contributed to the prevalence of mental health conditions in our society.

“Some patients who have been admitted in the CCMC who are victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse would have a diagnosable mental health condition,” reads a portion of the proposed ordinance.

De los Santos further said that the professional fees of mental health experts in private institutions are “enormous” and it is just prudent for the Cebu City Government to designate a mental health area in the CCMC that can cater to the underprivileged sector.

The councilor anchored her ordinance on Republic Act 11036, or the Mental Health Act, which affirms the basic rights of all Filipinos to mental health and the fundamental rights of people who require mental health services.

The proposed ordinance also aims to establish a multi-disciplinary joint network for the early detection, prevention and treatment of mental illness or disability among vulnerable sectors in the community.

Once the BHU is established, the City will then employ psychiatrists and psychologists but if these professionals are not available for regular employment, the City may procure their services through service agreements.

The mental health facility shall also be complete with facilities like admitting area, calming room, patient’s ward, multipurpose hall, nurse’s station and significant other’s lounge among others.

De los Santos is also the co-author of City Ordinance 2479, which created Barangay Behavioral Health Units (BBHU) in every village, last 2017.

On Feb. 15, 2020, a BBHU was opened in Barangay Lahug as a way to eradicate the stigma of mental illnesses and to increase the awareness of residents about mental health.