The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) was recognized by the Department of Health (DOH)-Center for Health Development as the 1st Best Mental Health Implementer in the Ilocos region.
This recognition was earned as a result of the province’s Speak Up, I’m Here (SUIH), a mental health hotline and center, which started on October 9, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the initiative of our Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc.
PGIN received the award at the DOH Regional Center in La Union last December 12, 2022. The province also received a monetary reward of PHP 25,000.
Initially, the goal of this initiative is to provide help to residents who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues as a result of isolation.
At present, SUIH offers four (4) main services—chat, text, phone, and face-to-face counseling—and focuses on the mental health issues that residents are experiencing.
The center also provides free mental health psychosocial support training, wellness camps, home visits, outreach and gift-giving activities, medical assistance to Ilokanos, and psychological first aid training in every barangay in the province.
“This recognition gives us more inspiration to do our best because our hotlines are open 24/7. With the problems that we are still facing, we are challenged to work better. Despite the fact that the program is only a little more than two years old, it is a true honor and a source of pride for the province. This is a clear indication that we are doing something to help our kakailian. Not only our kakailian but also those from outside of Ilocos Norte,” Mrs. Divine Sevilla, a counseling professional and psychological first aider of SUIH said.
According to Mrs. Sevilla, SUIH was already institutionalized through an ordinance in May 2021, and it will soon be identified as the Ilocos Norte Mental Health Assistance Center (INMHAC).
PGIN intends to expand the center by hiring licensed psychologists to treat its patients. As of the moment, SUIH is a preventive and not a curative center.－Mariell Pahinag, PGIN-CMO