'2020 Na': Hontiveros urges sensitivity on mental health from 'media, persons of influence'

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
'2020 Na': Hontiveros urges sensitivity on mental health from 'media, persons of influence'
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the bill’s principal author, stressed that the measure can help those suffering from depression and other mental health issues.
Office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged people in media and persons of influence to practice sensitvity on matters of mental health, a topic that is still surrounded by a stigma in the Philippines.

Hontiveros, who pushed for passage of the Mental Health bill at the Senate, said those with reach and influence have the responsibility to educate the public on mental health issues and not to make light of a topic that is often misunderstood in the Philippines

Hontiveros posted the tweet after actress Nadine Lustre slammed entertainment writer Ricky Lo for an article he penned for The STAR that explicitly mentioned Lustre's mental health as well as the death of her brother. 

Lo's  article in The STAR alleged that Lustre and boyfriend James Reid had broken up after having been together since 2016. Lo wrote: "James is handling the breakup with care to cushion the impact on Nadine who has admitted grappling with mental illness."

Lustre, in an Instagram story that has since gone viral on social media, said:  "First off, that was so low."

"Second, none of what you said was true and it is never okay to use someone’s mental situation/tragic past just to prove a point. Mental illness is a very sensitive matter."

She added: "And last, you think you know so much about me, you can't even get my last name right. Anu na, 2020 na!"

On Sunday, Hontiveros tweeted: "Remember: it’s dangerous to assume na alam natin ang pinagdadaanan ng iba. It’s equally dangerous to dictate kung paano sila dapat mag-cope,"

The Akbayan senator has been a staunch advocate for mental health legislation since her election. She was among the principal lawmakers who penned the Mental Health Law, or Republic Act No. 11036, which President Duterte signed into law in 2018. 

The measure seeks to "secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs and mental health professionals, provide mental health services down to the barangays, integrate psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurologic services in regional, provincial, and tertiary hospitals, improve our mental healthcare facilities and promote mental health education in our schools and workplaces," Hontiveros wrote in a statement in June 2018, shortly after the law was approved. 

"Every day, seven Filipinos turn to suicide. One in five Filipino adults also suffer from a form of mental disorder. The Mental Health Law cements the government's commitment to a more holistic approach to healthcare: without sound mental health there can be no genuine physical health," Hontiveros said in her statement.  

"I hope we can all help in removing the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s our shared responsibility, mga mahal," she tweeted. 

The National Center for Mental Health crisis hotline can be reached at 0917-899 8727 or 989-8727.

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