Home Hall of Fame Beverly Azucena
by Olivia Dunn

eMental Health Hall of Fame

PHILIPPINES

NATIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD 2022

LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE IN
eMENTAL HEALTH IMPLEMENTATION

Beverly Azucena

NATIONAL CENTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH, PHILIPPINES

The 2022 Implementation Leadership Award for the Philippines is Dr Beverly Azucena.

The Philippine’s inaugural award recipient is a champion of the digitalization of mental health data in the Philippines, specifically with her efforts at the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) where she is currently the Chief of Medical and Professional Staff. The evidence is in her ardent support of efforts such as the APEC Digital Hub, the Cognitive Neurosciences, Biomedical Informatics and Genomics (or CNBIG) project, and, most recently, the Mental Health Information System (MHIS) project which is called for by the recently enacted Mental Health Law.

The MHIS programme is a bold initiative in a developing country like the Philippines but, spearheaded by today’s award recipient, we are now breaking ground in the field.

The Philippines’ eMental Health journey has just begun and for sure, there will be humps and bumps along the way. As a low-middle income country, struggling to recover from the Covid19 pandemic, it is not difficult to find obstacles and constraints. Resource deficits – both human and fiscal – are rife in this country.

Armed with a vision plus the legal and institutional mandate, Beverly laid the groundwork for the MHIS by assembling practical elements such as: creating a technical working group; finding technical experts to assist the NCMH in this endeavor; searching and mobilizing logistical resources to give fruition to the idea of setting up the much-needed MHIS.

Along with her manifold task as the Chief of Medical and Professional Staff at the NCMH, she has championed the MHIS efforts with conviction, competence and commitment. Certainly, these are key elements essential to building the MHIS at the time of the pandemic when development resources constantly compete with multifarious and urgent national needs and priorities.

One referee commented:

“Her dedication to mental health data work truly is unrelenting, which, I believe, stems from her realization early on that the data, once organized, can eventually translate to improvements in the provision of mental healthcare services not just in NCMH but also in the rest of the country. In terms of research, she has supported the assessment of the readiness of our mental healthcare workers for digitalization (yes they are, especially the younger ones!) and the development of a mental health tissue bank, which will aid in precision medicine, to tailor the available medicines to our patients’ genetic characteristics.”

Beverly’s social impact is as bold as it is daring: a national health management regime that is enlightened and guided by data grounded in reality.  She has shown that where the spirit is willing, there is no such thing as a daunting task. It is this spirit that sustains the drive to soldier on in the national effort to build the mental health information system. The eMHIS is a legacy that will remain relevant for many decades to come.

Congratulations Beverly and the team at NCMH!

FOLLOW BEVERLY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Victoria Hornby

CEO, Mental Health Innovations, UK

International Phone and Text Helplines

Victoria is CEO of Mental Health Innovations, the charity behind SHOUT, the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text service. From 2011 to 2017, she was Director of Programmes at The Royal Foundation, building a portfolio of projects including the Invictus Games, Coach Core, United for Wildlife and Heads Together.