There's a PWD ID for Mental Illness. Here's How to Apply for One
There's much to be happy about in terms of mental health awareness in the Philippines: progress has been made by grassroots initiatives and policymakers together, celebrities are speaking out about their own mental health struggles, and our very own Philippine Mental Health Act (RA 11036) is currently having its implementing rules and regulations formulated by the DOH and other stakeholders. As Senator Risa Hontiveros put it, “help is finally here.”
But for those who seek mental healthcare, accessibility isn't something that can change overnight. In fact, the prices of psychotherapy and psychotropic medications are the root of misconception that mental illness is “only for the rich.” This can't be further from the truth, but it's a sad reality that many people don't even try to take care of their mental health because of the expenses that come with it.
One major way to curb these expenses is through applying for a Persons with Disabilities (PWD) ID. You may apply for one if you have a visual impairment, hearing loss, orthopedic disability, learning disability, chronic illness, psychosocial disability, and mental disability, according to the official website of the Organization for Pinoys with Disabilities. According to their definitions, this includes bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia—all very different illnesses, to be sure, but all covered and eligible.
The PWD ID is a massive help especially for expenses: cardholders get a 20% discount and VAT exemption from most services. A more detailed list of cardholder privileges and caretaker incentives can be found here. The process is relatively quick once your requirements are in order:
What you'll need to apply:
- An application form (which can be found online here or at the site itself)
- Two 2x2 ID photos
- Medical certificate/clinical abstract from a medical professional (for mental illnesses, this needs to come from a psychiatrist)
- Barangay clearance, voter’s ID, or any government-issued ID
Where to go (please check which of the following applies to you):
- PWD Affairs Office (PDAO) of your City Hall
- Office of the Mayor
- City/Municipality Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO/MSWDO)
- You can go to the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) if you are a soldier admitted at V. Luna Hospital from a far away area, or have an urgent case
- You can also go to your nearest City/Municipal Health Office, or your Barangay satellite Health Office for verification of Certificate of Disability
How to apply:
- Bring the aforementioned requirements.
- Fill up the application form and affix your photo.
- You will be guided through verification of requirements, encoding of information, and issuance of your ID.
Because of the both the external and internalized stigma of mental illness, people may hesitate to use their PWD card for the first time. But it's important to remember that not all disabilities are visible—the physical, emotional, and psychological toll may at least be slightly mitigated by the financial help and benefits that come with a PWD ID. In an environment with more mental health awareness efforts than ever before, now would be a fantastic time to apply.