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6 Principles of Effective Mental Health Program

Six principles of an effective mental health program were presented by Dr. Anselmo Tronco, Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine of the Philippine General Hospital in the Drug Addiction and Mental Health Session during the 11th Philippine National Health Research System Week celebration on 24 August 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.

1. Address stigma.
People with mental health illness confront two challenges – the syndrome of the sickness itself and the discrimination they experience from the people around them. According to WHO, stigma has negative effects to the patients as it deteriorates self-esteem, disrupts family relationships and limits patient’s ability to socialize and secure housing and jobs. People thinks mentally ill patients are violent and dangerous but in fact patients have higher tendency to hurt themselves than hurting other people. Dr. Tronco urged for mental health awareness and campaigns be included in mental health programs.

2. Create relationship with the stakeholders for mental health
Local chief executives have important role in integrating a mental health program in the community because they have the power to bring together services from the health and non-health sectors.

3. Experience a process of sharing, validation, and problem-solving

Build support groups where communities can share experience of difficulties, identify common reactions, validate good stories of coping, and facilitate plans for action. Aside from the family where patients can gather strength and resilience, community is a single most important resource for Mental Health Interventions.

4. Involve the family in the program
As partners in providing care to persons with mental disorder, families also need some form of support. Family go through immense pressure in taking care of a patient, that’s why, services such as family education and training, support, and counseling on mental health should be available and accessible to them. Like support groups for the patients, support group where family members can get opportunity to share fears and learn lessons on coping should be established.

5. Harness Community Resilience on Mental Health
Build on the successes of the mental health programs in the communities. Look at the social and cultural practices on how people in communities overcome stress and deal with the challenges of life. Harnessing community resilience also requires human resource that can effectively mobilize community services and infrastructure for mental health.

6. Grab opportunities from crisis and disasters
When disaster strikes, leaders usually listen and responds to communal pain. There are opportunities for mental health programs to highlight emotional and social needs since disasters creates a context of shared grief and recovery.