Mental health in the Philippines is a pressing concern that has been put in the spotlight in recent times. While thousands of our fellow Filipinos suffer from mental disabilities or disorders, availability and access to mental health care services and provides remain lacking. This alarming state of mental health in the country has pushed the lobbying for the Mental Health Act by different sectors of our society.

Despite the lack of a national policy for mental health, various organizations and health professionals have, for years, filled the gaps to address these needs. This has inspired the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity, the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Association of the Philippines, and the PHAP Cares Foundation, Inc, to organize the “Innovations and Best Practices: A Forum on Approaching Mental Health Programs.”

Pioneers and experts in the field of mental health in the country gathered at the Century Park Hotel last March 25, 2016 to share their work and perspectives in providing care for those with mental health problems. Consisting of talks, panel discussions, and interactive fora, “Innovations and Best Practices” has initiated the building and growth of an inter-institutional network and collaborative community of mental health care providers and advocates across the country.

Session 1 covered Urban and Facility-based Mental Health Programs. Dr. Ma. Lourdes Rosanna De Guzman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, PGH moderated this session which featured the following speakers:

Dr. Violeta Bautista

UP Diliman Office of Counseling and Guidance

Dr. Carolina Uno-Rayco

Philippine Mental Health Association

Dr. Bernardino Vicente

National Center for Mental Health

Session 2 gave the audience a view of Mental Health Programs in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas. With Ms. Lucita Lazo, from WAPR Philippines, as facilitator, this part of the program gave the stage to the following mental health care providers:

Dr. Christine Nadala

former DTTB, Concepcion, Iloilo

Dr. Gerry Dela Zerna


Dr. Anselmo Tronco

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, PGH (DPBM-PGH)

Dr. Marvin Masalunga, ΜΣΦ 2014

former DTTB, Coron, Palawan

Lastly, in Session 3, Mr. JM Embate of the University of the Philippines Los Baños moderated the session on Disaster, Emergency, Conflict, and Fragility Mental Health Programs featuring:

Dr. June Pagaduan-Lopez


Balik-Kalipay Center for Psychosocial Response, Inc.

Ms. Lucita Lazo

World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation Philippines

Dr. Zenaida Paez-Beltejar

Philippine National Red Cross

Dr. Carlo Paolo Castro


International Medical Corps

As we are fast approaching the dawn for the Mental Health Act in our country, the need to connect and the opportunity to collaborate has become more relevant. We hold firmly to our advocacy that there is no health without mental health.

#IBP #mentalhealth