Senator Sonny Angara has called on government authorities to ensure that sufficient medical aid, including mental health services, will be afforded to the rescued civilians and displaced residents of the war-torn Marawi City.
"The shattered dignity of the Maranaos is more difficult to relieve. It takes more than food or water or even shelter. It needs much more than that to be restored, Angara said.
"Let's aggressively address the well-being of the evacuees. It is crucial to rebuild their souls alongside the infrastructure. When souls are broken, there is no rehabilitating a city because a city is its people," he added.
According to a recent news report, some 2,500 evacuees have shown early symptoms of schizophrenia.
Marawi Crisis Management Committee spokesperson Zia Alonto Adiong, however, said in the same report that there is a lack of psychiatrists in the area to attend to all the needs of the victims.
Angara, one of the authors of the Senate-approved mental health bill, pointed out that crisis like this highlights the urgent need for a mental health law in the country.
The bill mandates the government to provide basic mental health services at the community level and psychiatric, psychosocial and neurologic services in all regional, provincial and tertiary hospitals.
The lawmaker said that with such law in place, mental health services will be more accessible especially in conflict areas so as to immediately provide psychological first aid to victims to minimize their stress symptoms following a traumatic incident.
Source: Senate of the Philippines