One may regard how our generation shifted its dynamic towards opening up about mental health issues. Whether it be admitting signs of depression, anxiety, or any mental disorder; our increased awareness of receiving help and mental vulnerability led us to not be scared nor ashamed of what we are feeling. Though, as much as we have slowly destigmatized and accepted mental health struggles as 'real' health problems, this does not automatically correlate to the clamor for actual opportunities to better one's mental state.

The accessibility of mental health services remains to hinder one's need to better themselves mentally. Even if someone would want to get treated, they would have to reduce their options to fit the demands of their wallets. A study by Martinez et al (as cited by Dela Pena, 2022 for revealed that online help-seeking through mobile applications such as KonsultaMD (which are generally free or graced with a free-trial period) continues to increase as compared to personal consultations with mental health professionals and established institutions that are deemed to be more effective, simply because they couldn't afford it.

Though this does not entirely leave us with nothing. The enactment of Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Act of 2018 meant to provide mental health services to the people in the likes of government-owned facilities and clinics dedicated to catering to Filipinos that are in need of mental health care and assistance.

While the RA 11036 mandate promised such services, its fruition is not felt in cities like Baybay, let alone be guaranteed as entirely free. The general public is then hesitant to trust government services or is either ill-informed due to a lack of awareness from the dissemination of the benefits offered by the law. Aside from this, PhilHealth (wherein 93% of Filipinos are members as of 2018) does not even cover mental health benefits. While it may have said in 2021 that it plans to cover such services, it has not updated its website with regards to it as of this writing.

An urgent need for professional help may result in opting for private services. Luckily for me, I was able to acquire consultations with a psychotherapist after experiencing symptoms of climate anxiety for months. Getting in touch with a mental health professional helped me tremendously; the only problem was that the Php 500-1000 peso minimum rate per session (excluding diagnosis) was not something that my family could regularly afford, so my consultations had to eventually stop, along with my progress towards a better mental state.

The common denominator beneath all is none other than money. It is not by any means the 'willingness' to get treated, it's the amount that one will have to pay just to get the treatment, which they may contemplate saving when rent is due or when there is no more food to eat. And as inflation rates continue to affect necessities and commodities, what more with mental health services that are already expensive in the first place? Even those who are regularly waged still struggle to keep up with the demands of being mentally stable with the use of healthcare because of soaring fees. Do mentally-ill Filipinos need to pass another day settling with the lack of access to the treatment they clearly need?

Mental health services should be made free since they tackle health problems that don't just go away after taking a single pill. As long as these services are pedestalled at a rate where only those of the upper class could fully afford a two-hour session with a therapist, then there is definitely a need for the government to bridge its accessibility to the common man.

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