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Davao City’s Mental Wellness Center for Homeless People

Last year, in the midst of the Covid 19 outbreak, the City Government of Davao saw another issue that required fast and appropriate attention.

Inday Sara Duterte, a vice-presidential contender and the mayor of Davao City, revealed that while the city was put under lockdown during the pandemic, a group of homeless mentally challenged people was left on the streets.

And they were completely clueless about what was going on in the world.

Sara added on Monday’s episode of her internet show “Sara for All of You” that they noticed the problem during the lockdowns and that she immediately instructed local officials to undertake rescue operations.

It sparked the notion of building a shelter for mentally ill homeless persons. The rescued people were initially held in the Pasalubong Center in Davao City before being transported to a Buhangin facility.

The city administration opened the Mental Wellness Center for the Homeless last week.

The center’s manager, Dr. Annaliza Malubay, stated that the center’s goal is to give shelter and medical treatment to mentally ill homeless persons.

“Ang objective natin nito ay parang shelter para sa mga kapatid natin na (Our purpose is similar to that of a shelter for our) homeless, who have been abandoned, neglected, and are living on the streets,” Malubay, who appeared on the show Monday, said.

“After they’ve been rescued, we offer them with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical evaluation.” We do so if laboratories are required and we refer to other hospitals for x-rays, etc.,” Malubay noted.

Patients at the center participate in activities such as music, art, games, and sports to improve their collaboration and skills. Patients are also given medications to help them cope with their hallucinations and delusions.

The Dumper Partylist, through Rep. Claudine Bautista, funded the new center, which is housed at the Southern Philippines Medical Center – Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

“Noon kasi nga meron tayong mentally-challenged sa streets natin,’yung social workers natin yung kumukuha sa kanila at binabalik sa kanilang mga families,” Duterte added.

“Once they’re returned, their families don’t know how to care for them; pinapabayaan lang din sila kaya bumabalik lang rin sa lansangan,” she explained.

The center has already seen 76 admissions and 55 discharges since it opened on April 20, 2021. 22 of the 55 people released are from the Caraga and Cotabato regions.

Sara expressed her hope that this experience will be beneficial to other local government units.

“This is one good thing that came out of this Covid-19 pandemic, a halfway house, na hindi kung hindi sila [mentally challenged individuals] pwede iuwi sa mental hospitals pero hindi rin sila hindi sila pwede iuwi kaagad kaya meron tayo nitong (if they are not mentally challenged individuals, they can be brought

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who also appeared on the show, praised the mental health initiative, particularly the creation of an isolation center for mentally ill “palaboys.”

More parts of the facility need to be benchmarked with Davao City, according to Gatchalian, a former mayor of Valenzuela City who launched a similar program.

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