Photo source: The Hofstra Chronicles

Mental health is one of the most neglected areas in public health.*

Through the recent mapping study by the Department of Science and Technology – National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) on the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) in the Philippines in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, it was found that mental health and psychosocial support should be core components of any public health response.

According to Dr. Elizabeth P. De Castro, NRCP member and Professor (Retired), Department of Psychology, University of the Philippines, Diliman who conducted the study, “mental health and psychosocial support interventions should be carried out within the general health services, including primary healthcare, and other pre-existing structures in the community such as schools, community centers and youth and senior citizen centers”.

Also, with the vital role of mental health, in health and well-being of Filipinos, the mapping initiative of the DOST-NRCP reveals the type of MHPSS services available. This allows for identification of gaps for a well-planned and responsive MHPSS services through science-based policy recommendations. It will also directly benefit the community at large in accessing available Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services.

With the service providers spread nationwide (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao), access for mental health and psychosocial support are within reach, although a larger portion are based in Metro Manila, followed by Central Visayas. But, as Dr. De Castro says, “no worries as many of these support services are also available online”. The Facebook Messenger, Zoom, and Viber being the top three online platforms for the MHPSS service providers.

Meanwhile, the most frequently provided specific services/ activities are: Basic counseling for individuals, information, education and communication (IEC) materials on the current situation, relief efforts and available services, Psychological First Aid, psychological support for staff/volunteers/front liners, and case management, referrals and linking vulnerable individuals to resources.

Snip from Tableau: The photo shows the interactive MHPSS mapping results by Locations and the List of Service Provides.

The project also looked into the most frequent target beneficiaries, and they are the general public, vulnerable groups (e.g. persons with disabilities, children, elderly, pregnant women, persons with pre-existing mental health conditions), families, relatives and friends affected by COVID-19, medical front liners (e.g. doctors, nurses and other allied medical professions), and individuals directly affected by COVID 19.

It was also found that most services across different MHPSS categories are catering to those 18 years and above and children 18 years and below. It was noted that there’s no significant difference between gender MHPSS services as it was almost equally open and available to both males and females.

Recognizing the long-term negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the population, there is a need to plan for appropriate and relevant services beyond the pandemic.

Knowing what MHPSS services are currently available and sustainable will help in developing strategic plans, policies and guidelines that are more responsive to MHPSS needs of the community.


Interactive map shows mental health and psychosocial services available in the Philippines

Got mental health problems, but don’t know where to get help?

The DOST-NRCP produced an interactive map of mental health and psychosocial services available in the Philippines.

The diverse roster of MHPSS available during COVID-19 can be accessed anywhere. Everyone with internet can now type their needed services to view mental health and psychosocial services available in their area at and

Snip from Tableau: The photo shows the interactive MHPSS mapping results by Specific Services.

The Tableau (version 2020.2) was used to create the online interactive results and to visualize and analyze the data.

The actual data gathering ran from June to July 2020 with 109 actual respondents (48 individuals and 61 organizations) with a 64.5% overall response rate.

The current study only mapped the MHPSS services available during the pandemic with a minimum number of respondents and the team sees the need for further national baseline study and assessment of the mental health situation of the large majority of Filipinos in the new normal.

In photo (from top to bottom): Dr. Elizabeth P. De Castro, NRCP member, Dr. Marieta Bañez Sumagaysay, DOST-NRCP Executive Director, and Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña, DOST Secretary during the DOST-NRCP KTOP-COVID (Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya – COVID) webinar, on October 13, 2020 via Zoom.

This project led by Dr. Elizabeth P. De Castro, NRCP member was presented during the DOST-NRCP KTOP-COVID (Kapakanan ng Tao sa Oras ng Pandemya – COVID) 5th of a series of webinars, on October 13, 2020 via Zoom. The study was also in collaboration with the Psychosocial Support and Children’s Rights Resource Center and Ateneo De Manila University School of Medicine, Center for Research and Innovation.

The interactive map on mental health and psychosocial services, together with the gender-sensitive’ COVID-19 online dashboard by Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante, NRCP Governing Board, will soon be available in the NRCP website.