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Cases of mental health issues among learners, school staff ‘alarming’

January 31, 2023 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 223 views

A SOLON pushed for the strengthening of the promotion and delivery of mental health services amid “alarming” rising cases of mental health issues among learners and school personnel.

Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1795, which aims to put up Mental Health and Well-being Offices in every school division to address the mental, emotional, and developmental needs of learners and personnel of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Nakakabahala itong pagtaas ng kaso ng anxiety, stress, at depression hindi lang sa ating mga mag-aaral, kundi pati na rin sa ating mga teaching and non-teaching personnels,” Lapid said.

In the bill’s explanatory note, Lapid expressed distress over the rising cases of mental health decline among students, citing that the Department of Health (DOH) estimated that at least 3.6 million Filipinos faced mental health issues during the pandemic.

“Nakakalungkot na hindi pa rin gaano kinikilala ang bigat ng usapin pagdating sa mental health at ang katotohanan na ang mahinang kalusugan ng isip ay maaaring makagambala sa kakayahan ng isang tao na mag-isip ng malinaw at makapag-desisyon ng maayos,” the senator added.

“Just recently, on January 20, 2023, a 13-year-old male student was stabbed by his 15-year-old classmate inside the Culiat High School. Further, on January 23, 2023, a senior high school student died after falling from the ninth floor of a building inside the school premises,” the bill’s explanatory note read.

“Hindi natin gusto na magkaroon pa ng mga ganitong kaso sa hinaharap. Kaya sa panukalang ating inihain, binibigyang-diin natin ang kahalagahan ng pagbibigay-prayoridad sa kalusugan ng isip ng mga mag-aaral,” Lapid expressed.

Lapid’s bill, the “Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act,” also mandates the DepEd to provide for the hiring and deployment of mental health professionals such that each public elementary, secondary, vocational institution, and offices in the different governance levels of the DepEd shall have mental health professionals or mental health service providers.

Under SB No. 1795, DepEd shall also provide sufficient resources for mental health programs and projects designed to maintain and address the mental health and well-being of learners and personnel.

Ultimately, Lapid highlighted that mental health promotion and early intervention strategies may produce the greatest impact on people’s health, minimizing the effects of any potentially serious health condition.

“Mental health promotion or early intervention in young people is an investment for the future,” Lapid added.