Mental health is an asset that Julie Gamboa wishes every person in the world to enjoy in abundance. The world today is missing a lot of contribution due to the mental illnesses people suffer from. An excellent example of the set back is in the Philippines.
The shocking revelations that Julie Gamboa found in the research through her foundation, Psychiatric Foundation of Philippines, found out about the mental health of the Philippines people has aroused a national concern.
The Philippines is one of the highly-populated states in the world, 100 million people plus and of this population, an unusually high number suffers from mental-related illnesses like depression, schizophrenia, stimulant-related illness, and others.
Of all the diseases in the Filipino, mental illness ranks as the 3rd most affecting disease. This means, more than 14% of people living with disabilities have a mental illness. The number translates to 1.4 million people living with the disability.
The population of people with psychiatric challenges keeps on escalating year in and out. Julie Gamboa has these statistics as a matter of great concern. Through the research, she conducted, motivated her into taking the action of founding the Psychiatric Foundation of The Philippines (PFP). (From this point on, the foundation shall appear in the article using the initial PFP).
One of the signs that prompted Julie Gamboa to put her weight behind the psychiatric issues in Filipino is the rate of suicide cases and attempts that have gone to the records of the registrar of deaths. By 2012, more than 2558 deaths were suicide-related. Out of the number, 2009 were men. This means men are more vulnerable to psychiatric issues in Filipino.
The more worrying trend that Julie Gamboa noted was the attention the government, the society and individuals have given to the mental health. It is too heartbreaking to learn that only 700 psychiatrists are available in the Philippines with 1,000 psychiatric nurses only on the support.
The doctor-patient ratio, therefore, is 1:20,000. The nurses taking care of the patients have a ratio of 1:14,000. The reflection in the medical department to attend to psychiatric cases is not enough to keep the mental health stable.
Julie Gamboa took the initiative through her PFP to mobilize the government to empower the medical sector by increasing its capacity. She forwarded a bill through the Vice President of Filipino, Leni Robredo, who gave her the moral and legal support to push the agenda.
The bill consisted of the rights of the mentally ill, allocating more resources to the study of mental health, and quality healthcare to the mentally ill. The bill also tackled the empowerment of the medical sector, participation and inclusive leadership in the mental health.
However, the bill never pulled through because of lack of goodwill. Julie Gamboa did not lose hope. She went ahead to revisit the bill together with a few other lawyers and tabled it back to parliament. Parts of the bill went through especially on the allocation of funds.
Despite the shortcomings, Julie ran campaigns across the towns of Filipino to sensitize people on the mental illness. It is with profound sadness that many people don’t take mental illness as an illness that can be handled by medics and the society and bring back the victim to a healthy life.
The foundation too, partnered with other organizations to sponsor students who had the interest to specialize in the psychiatric courses. The aim was to take at least 50 annually. The number increased over time as more sponsors came in to promote the course.
It’s now a decade and Julie Gamboa testifies of how high the program is doing. They have trained more than 700 psychiatrists and 1500 nurses. This contribution is significant in the medical sector. The access of patients is high compared to the years before.
The ministry of education noted the difference PFP was creating in the society. They adopted some of the programs into the curriculum. The mentorship that PFP was carrying out in towns and villages got a boost into the schools. The syllabus in schools was to help students learn early signs of depression.
Although the content extended to the management of stress and depression and to learn how to share challenges that may lead to ill mental health. Many schools quickly adjusted to the program and guiding and counseling departments were encouraged to enforce the initiative.
The rate of psychiatric-related illness is slowly going down since the radical campaigns took effect. Julie Gamboa appreciates the fact that the media has also come in handy to help in the sensitization process. The talk shows on every other channel both television and radios have hit the airwaves often.
The citizens of Filipino have the concern about their mental health more than any other medical need today. The social media discussions should be able to raise the red flag on how things are moving. The beauty about this is that the foundation Julie Gamboa founded does not miss to touch headlines in all the talk shows and social media discussions.
The most physical asset that PFP is giving to the Philippines is the direct counseling sessions at their centers. On a daily basis, the counselors are on duty to ensure that every person who needs to share the setbacks that require intervention to have a place.
The process is not an easy one; it needs passionate and talented people who have the skills, experience and the right knowledge of dealing with issues. The complex matters that are medical oriented, Julie Gamboa, refer the patients to the proper medical facilities.
All in all, Julie Gamboa is a name that resounds in Filipino for her immense contributions on the projects she has initiated regarding the mental health. The advocacy and the activism on the rights of the mentally disabled people are not a walk in the park.
Julie Gamboa is an educationist. She has studied English Literature and guiding and counseling (Ph.D.). She has taken all she has to the bank of help of for the country she loves.