Mental health issues and stigma has become less taboo and more a part of everyday conversations. Despite of that, there is much yet to be achieved by the medical community in terms of addressing such conditions—the so-called “mental health gap.” Taking the necessary strides to close this mhGap is Johnson & Johnson Philippines, Inc. (J&J), which recently held its first Mental Health Summit in Cebu City last August 4-5, 2022.
The two-day summit, held in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA), mainly emphasized the importance that the involvement of community healthcare workers, such as doctors and nurses, played in the success of the Community-Based Mental Health (CBMH) program implemented across 65 cities and towns of Cebu and Bohol.
Dr. Erwin Benedicto, Portfolio Medical Director for J&J Southeast Asia, delved into the CBMH program’s local experiences and discussed how innovative mental health solutions may benefit both patients and healthcare systems. He also talked about how crucial it is to include these approaches into our community mental health initiatives.
“Through the CBMH program, we want to train more doctors and nurses on the mhGap and strengthen the government’s community mental health initiatives through the use of innovative health solutions,” Benedicto said.
One such solution discussed during the summit is the use of long-acting injectables (PP1M and PP3M) at the community level to address schizophrenia, one of the leading mental health conditions in the country. Dr. Glenda Basubas of the PMHA led the discussion on this solution, highlighting how these long-acting injectables, which allow for the slow release of medicine into a patient’s blood. Long-acting injections of second-generation antipsychotics are a brand-new, cutting edge treatment for schizophrenia. As an innovative course of treatment, it is imperative that this treatment is integrated into the community mental health program so that everyone who needs it can have access to it.
Finally, summit participants also experienced an insightful workshop on Mindfulness, also led by Dr. Basubas.
“Guided by our commitment to the communities we serve and our world community, we at J&J are looking forward to holding more summits like this across all the regions of the country,” Benedicto said. “Through proper education and awareness, the Philippines can contribute largely to the closing of the mhGap.”
Lastly, local government members, representatives from the Department of Health, the Philippine Mental Health Association, and J&J Philippines signed a pledge of support for community mental health programs to conclude the summit. This commitment is our collective promise to endeavor to ensure that our fellow Filipinos can properly care for their mental health.
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