GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) – Alarmed with the rising number of persons with mental disorders or illnesses roaming the streets here, city officials urged the national government to establish a mental hospital in the area.
In a resolution, the city council specifically asked the Office of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management to pursue the development of a mental hospital or a related facility that will cater to patients from the city and other parts of Region 12.
City Councilor Elizabeth Bagonoc, who authored the resolution, said Wednesday she pushed for such move to address the growing number of mentally ill persons roaming the streets in the area.
Figures are not immediately available but she said their presence in the streets and other public places poses serious risks to the safety of local residents.
The official cited the case of an official of Barangay Fatima who sustained head injuries after being attacked by a mentally ill or deranged person last July 6.
She said officials of Barangay Bawing also raised concern during a recent “Barangayan” activity of the local government over the alarming presence of mentally ill or challenged persons who were already causing disturbance to the area’s peace and order.
Bagonoc said such problem is also being experienced by other local government units in Region 12.
“It is the duty of the city government and other local government units in Region 12 to render available, accessible, affordable and equitable quality mental health care and services to their constituents, especially the poor,” she said.
Based on the results of the disability survey conducted by the DOH, mental illness is currently the third most common form of disability in the country.
According to the acute psychiatric unit of the Cotabato City-based Cotabato Regional Medical Center, the number of psychiatric patients in the region increased by 33 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year.
It said Region 12 posted a total of 586 psychiatric or mentally-ill patients in 2011 and the number increased to 780 in 2012.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 earlier directed DOH personnel in the area to commission a study on the mentally ill sector in the region in coordination with local state colleges and universities.
The council, through a resolution, specifically proposed the conduct of a region-wide study on the magnitude of mentally-ill persons as well as various issues and concerns affecting the sector.
It designated the DOH-12 to spearhead the study in coordination with the University of the Philippines Manila School of Health Sciences campus in Koronadal City and other state colleges and universities in the region.