‘Into the Light’

Ph’s 1st mental health registry rolled out


A mental health advocacy is really needed to fill in a lot of gaps in the awareness, acceptance and treatment of mental health disorders.

“In order to gain wider access, greater advocacy should be pushed,” said Dr. Michael Sionzon of the Philippine General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, in a press conference.

This is why the Philippines’ first mental health information system was recently rolled out and will be piloted across eight regions.

Dubbed as “Into the Light”, this project is the product of a grant from Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson (Janssen Philippines) to the Foundation for the Advancement of Clinical Epidemiology, Inc. (FACE, Inc.), and the University of the Philippines Manila National Institute of Health-Institute of Clinical Epidemiology (UP NIH-ICE).

The project aims to compile comprehensive reports, influence government policy, and advocate greater attention and resources to be allocated for mental health. Fourteen hospitals (10 public, four private) have already signed up for this, and the NIH serves as the implementing partner.

Dr. Dina Nadera of the Philippine Psychiatric Association said that by having a registry, the clinician would be able to assess better the right intervention he/she must give to the patients. “Hopefully, the association will encourage more facilities to be involved in this,” she said.

“We should be actively involved in improving healthcare,” noted Jeffrey Stewart Go, J&J Philippines managing director.

As the project intends to provide much-needed scientific data that will lead to more grounded mental policies, Go cited that it will not only improve patient conditions, but how the society views mental illness. The data that will be gathered are relevant and timely information for effective patient management.

Healthcare providers said that the lack of a systematic database that will show how many individuals are affected is a challenge. Stigma hinders some MDs from understanding individuals.

In the press conference, it was explained that stigma and other negative beliefs hinder patients to seek treatment.

With regard to confidentiality, it is only the doctors and their patients who will see the data. As to updating the records, on the other hand, an offline software should be installed so there’s no need for a 24/7 internet connection. One will only need the internet to upload data.


Globally, there’s an increasing mental health cases/conditions. Services are not available because data is not available.

According to Prof. Maria Lourdes Amarillo, project leader, the four leading causes of disability globally are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the most common single cause of disability in both developed and developed countries by 2020.

The latest data available in the Philippines is from a 2000 survey by the National Statistics Office (NSO). In this survey, it was revealed that mental illness was the country’s third most common form of disability. The survey added that the prevalence rate of mental disorders in the Philippines during that time was 88 cases per 100,000 individuals.

Furthermore, the 2005 National Health Statistics showed that the highest rate of suicide in the Philippines was among young individuals aged 20-24. Dr. Sionzon explained that the rate of mental disorders is often highest among marginalized people who do not have access to medical healthcare.

Meanwhile, “Into the Light” project has the possibility for expansion to cover the entire mental health in the country, said Dr. Criselda Abesamis, Director IV for Special Concerns, Technical Cluster, Department of Health (DOH).

VitalSigns Issue 67 Vol. 3, September 1-30, 2014

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.