Past Issues

The Evolution of Psychiatry and Mental Health in the Philippines

Réné M. Samaniego

The Philippines is an autonomous Southeast Asian country which portrays a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. This overview is examining the country’s distinctive historical narratives in the domain of psychiatry and mental health, chronicling the evolution of Philippine psychiatry in four periods namely, the pre-Spanish and Spanish era, the American regime, the Japanese occupation, as well as American liberation. Concurrently, it highlights the key figures and institutions that contributed to the progress of psychiatry in the Philippines. It also touches on the existing national mental health systems and specialty societies which were developed to address the expanding gap between the country’s mental health needs and the excessive burden of our earlier local mental institutions, thereby promoting the mental health activities in the country through the provision of clinical services and public education. A review of the current status of the psychiatric training in the Philippines is also provided. On the undergraduate level, it expounds on the country’s medical schools and its milieu in terms of duration of education as well as modes of instruction by the training faculty. Furthermore, it discusses the current post-graduate training institutions, the duration of the residency programs, modes of instruction and assessments, as well as the process of qualifying for certification in addition to becoming a diplomate and fellow of the national specialty society after the completion of training. Finally, it highlights and expounds on the Philippine Mental Health Act, a currently important and critical mental health advocacy of the country. Being one of the remaining minority countries without a national mental health law, the Philippines’ stakeholders in mental health are advocating and working towards the passage of the first ever mental health law which is in keeping with the existing administration’s aim of having mental health in the forefront of its health agenda. At the end of the overview, the author elaborates on the four important grounds of the bill, its highlights and objectives, as well as its most recent status in the Philippine senate and congress.
Key Word the Philippines, Philippine Mental Health Act, psychiatric care, psychiatrists as subspecialty doctors
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